The Power Of Pokémon

Now that Nintendo has released its second quarter earnings report President Tatsumi Kimishima has given his presentation, it’s becoming more obvious than ever before that Pokémon has saved Nintendo from having an awful sales year. With its Wii U home console all but dead and its handheld market being eroded by smart devices and tablets, Nintendo would have dramatically different and much more dire financials to report if Pokémon wasn’t here to save the day.

Although the beginning half of 2016 showed the 3DS hardware and software sales slowing versus last year, once Pokémon Go hit on smartphones and became a global sensation, the ripple effect kicked in and sales of the 3DS hardware and software surged worldwide, bringing more gamers to Nintendo’s ecosystem. It’s obvious this kind of bounce was unexpected as Nintendo just revised its projections for 3DS hardware sales up by 1 million units for the year.

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If we look at the sale of the Pokémon games from April through June they remain rather consistent. Once Pokémon Go takes the world by storm in July, the sales of the games on 3DS explode, more than doubling in the U.S. and Europe. This continues through August and September comes back down to about normal levels of sales.

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This had the same impact on 3DS hardware sales. The exception is that they haven’t really came back down to pre-July levels and have continued selling. This is probably due to us entering the holiday season and anticipation for Pokémon Sun & Moon as well as other recent games like Dragon Quest VII and Yo-Kai Watch 2.

3ds-sellthru-graph

With the sheer popularity of Pokémon Go, it’s no surprise that the Pokémon Go Plus accessory has been difficult to find. it launched on September 16, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one anywhere.

Demand far exceeded our expectations and production has not caught up, leading to product shortages. We apologize to the consumers and distributors affected by this. We are planning to expand production as needed, and will continue to produce and ship additional units.

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Of course, the biggest games of the year for Nintendo has yet to launch: Pokémon Sun and Moon. They are launching worldwide in November and are packed with new features. Nintendo hopes to continue to capture some of the Pokémon Go market with this new game exclusively on 3DS.

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To tie into the nostalgia factor (and the Pokémon Go crowd who is now becoming familiar with the original 150 monsters), Sun & Moon feature first-generation Pokémon with different appearances. Of course the game is also loaded with brand new monsters with unique traits and abilities.

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Pre-orders for Pokémon Sun & Moon have been exceptional, especially in the United States and Europe. The numbers far exceed those seen for Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. In Japan the trend is higher at the moment, but it looks like it might come in slightly below the prior games’ pre-order quantities unless it spikes in the next few weeks. Commercials for Sun & Moon are set to begin airing this weekend, and Nintendo expects the pre-orders to accelerate.

pokemon-sun-moon-preorder-trend

On October 18, Nintendo released the Pokémon Sun & Moon demo on the 3DS. Even though it’s only been available for about a week it has already passed 3.5 million downloads, the fastest start for any demo in the history of the 3DS system. Players who progress through the demo will have the ability to bring over Ash Greninja from the demo into the final game.

Depending on your territory, you may be able to pick up some of these special edition 3DS or 2DS systems. They will be available in limited quantities and are sure to appeal to fans of the series. It might just be me, but I really like the blue 2DS and the yellow 3DS XL, neither of which are releasing in North America (go figure).

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It’s safe to say that thanks to the power of Pokémon, Nintendo has been able to weather a transitional year better than it would have otherwise. Just when you think they’re down, Nintendo seems to have an ace up it sleeve and bounces back just fine. Let’s hope 2017 they come out swinging like never before.

 

Craig Majaski

Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He's currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.

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