This morning, I read that Nintendo’s stock has more than doubled since the release of Pokemon Go and, as of this writing, Nintendo is worth more than Sony. A couple of days ago, Pokemon Go surpassed Twitter in active daily users and Facebook in engagement. Wherever you go, it seems, there are hordes of people catching enigmatic little virtual monsters and crying out with glee.
Last weekend, it was my family’s turn to have a go at it. We were at the beach and my children wanted to show the game to my technophobic wife. Nineteen captures (and about 5000 steps on my FitBit) later even my wife was delighting in collecting little red balls at the PokeStop that happened to be on the location of the final, climactic scene of Planet of the Apes (talk about hallowed ground). A good time was had by all, even if we completely ignored the beautiful Pacific sunset because we were staring at my iPhone screen. . .
But here’s the thing: how many more times will my family spend an afternoon playing Pokemon Go? How many more afternoons will most of the people playing the game right now spend playing it? I’m guessing there will be a monster attrition rate in upcoming months. I’m just not convinced Pokemon Go has the depth and richness – and hence, staying power – of, say, a Minecraft PE.
I’m also not convinced there’s a sustainable way to monetize the game. Sure, retail outlets will pay to sponsor Pokestops now while it’s an international phenomenon, but will they still be paying in a year if Pokemon Go becomes last year’s news? For Nintendo stock to justify its meteoric rise, the company has to sustain its success in mobile gaming. They need to continue to build on the Pokemon Go platform and also bring out new, successful mobile games. It’s certainly possible, but if the contrarian in me wanted to bet, it would bet against.