Pokemon Go has already established itself as the viral hit of 2016 – and it could not come soon enough for Nintendo. The game has taken a life of its own, as young smartphone users are able to act out a game from their childhoods in an ‘augmented reality’.
Nintendo’s share price has risen sharply, though it cannot claim total credit for the game, as its actually a partnership with Niantic and The Pokemon Company. Nintendo has fallen behind industry rivals in past years, and its glory days of the mid-90s – when it produced genuinely genre-defining games – are now a distant memory. It has also been outflanked by the rise of games such as Candy Crush and Angry Birds, which enable users to play on the move, or at their own convenience.
However, it now looks as though the smartphone game has come to its rescue. YouGov BrandIndex data points to how interest in the game has rocketed in the past week or so, and how users are making the connection with Nintendo itself.
In the UK, Nintendo’s Word of Mouth Exposure score (i.e. have you talked to somebody about a brand in the last two weeks?) has risen sharply among 18-34s. Specifically, the score has moved from six to 32 in little over a week. This has impacted on overall brand health too. Nintendo’s Impression score among the same age group has risen, in this case by 13 points.
Nintendo does, however, lag behind traditional rival PlayStation on almost every YouGov metric, indicating one wider problem it has encountered in past years. The challenge for Nintendo is to capitalise on the boost the success has given the brand. It has to now fully embrace the smartphone, rather than using it as a vessel to attract users to its consoles. It will be hoping that the current Pokemon craze turns into something more than momentary nostalgia, and into a genuine reconnection with the company.