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Nintendo shares have skyrocketed since following Pokémon Go's release and instant transformation into global cultural phenomenon, but they fell dramatically today after investors realized that Nintendo doesn't actually make the game. Nintendo put out a statement after the close of trading on Friday pointing out that the bottom-line impact will be "limited" as it only owns 32 percent of The Pokémon Company, and that the game and its Pokémon Go Plus smartwatch peripheral have been accounted for in the company's current forecasts.
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Pokémon Go is a collaboration between The Pokémon Company and Niantic Labs, the developer who previously created the similar AR game Ingress as part of Google. This apparent revelation caused shares to plummet in Monday trading, with the stock dropping 17 percent at one point, representing about $6.4 billion in value; as Bloomberg notes, Tokyo stock exchange rules prevent share prices from moving more than 18 percent in a single day.
It appears that Nintendo's huge stock bump, which took the company past Sony in market capitalization, was fueled by investors with the misguided belief that Pokémon is wholly a Nintendo creation. Nothing that Nintendo said in its announcement on Friday was new information — there isn't a Nintendo logo to be found anywhere within Pokémon Go itself, and the status of the game's ownership has been clear since it was announced last year.
Nintendo does have its own mobile initiative in partnership with DeNA, and will soon release games based on the Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem franchises. Those are the titles with the potential to bring serious financial reward to the company if they perform well; Pokémon Go, on the other hand, simply serves as an example of how Nintendo IP could flourish when smartly deployed in the smartphone world.
The good news on the Pokémon Go front is that the game finally launched in Japan just ahead of the weekend, and I can tell you that it's already a phenomenon unlike anything I've ever seen here. There's no telling whether it'll have staying power, but you can't walk anywhere in Tokyo without finding someone attempting to catch a Psyduck. More than 10 million people had downloaded the game by Friday evening, just hours after it became available.