In 2015, Nintendo was struggling. The company was losing users to smartphone games. This prompted management to announce that it was launching some mobile offerings. This was realized with "Pokemon Go," and then with later games such as "Super Mario Run" and "Fire Emblem Heroes."
In the six months to September 30, Nintendo's last official earnings announcements, mobile games raked in 17.9 billion yen ($117.2 million), a 426 percent year-on-year increase.
But Nintendo owns just a small stake in The Pokemon Company, which licenses its intellectual property to game developer Niantic. So the overall contribution of "Pokemon Go" to Nintendo's earnings is limited. However, it played an important role in 2016 to bring interest back to the Japanese gaming brand.
"Pokemon Go had a halo impact on existing Nintendo hardware and software and led to an increase in 3DS sales and related Pokemon games," Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games research at IHS, told CNBC by email.
"It certainly helped re-position the brand in the run up to the launch of the Switch along with the announcement of first-party games coming to smartphones and tablets."