Thought Pokémon Go — the augmented reality smartphone game about hunting, capturing, and battling monsters — was just a fad? Think again. Thanks in part to the app’s continued success, The Pokémon Company recorded 26 times the profit it made the previous year.
That is according to Katan Games, Inc. CEO Serkan Toto, who noticed the line item in Japan’s Kanpo Gazette. “Net profit reached a staggering US$143.3 million in the fiscal year that ended on February 28, 2017 (there are no sales figures given),” Toto wrote in a blow-by-blow analysis on his blog. Last fiscal year (which ended Feb. 29, 2016), the Pokémon Company recorded profits of just $5.6 million.
“It’s widely known that if a developer lands a big hit on mobile, the profitability is much higher than for other platforms,” Toto told The Verge. “Some publicly traded mobile-game makers in Japan, for example, regularly boost operating margins of 40 percent and higher. I think that thanks to Pokémon Go being a mobile title and [Pokémon developer] Niantic getting better at live operations (at servicing, updating, tweaking the game), The Pokémon Company will continue to enjoy handsome profits over the next years,” he said.
Pokémon Go’s profitability is something of an open secret. In July 2016, app analytics firm Sensor Tower estimated that it hit 50 million downloads from the Google Play Store, Android’s app store, over the course of a single weekend. And in January, Nintendo reported a profit of $569 million on revenue of $1.5 billion — an uptick the company attributed in part to Pokémon Go.
It wasn’t just Pokémon Go that boosted The Pokémon Company’s bottom line, of course. Pokémon Sun and Moon helped — they clocked a collective 15.69 million in sales on Nintendo’s 3DS — as did Pokémon X and Y, which drove The Pokémon Company’s profits to $10.6 million last fiscal year.
But The Pokémon Company remains very much invested in the app’s future. In a recent interview with Brazilian outlet O Globo, Mathieu de Fayet, Niantic’s vice president of strategic partnerships, said that the company was “working on new features” like “how to give more value to the choice of teams,” the “release of Legendary Pokémon,” and battles between players. “Because of the great success, we had to postpone a few features that were planned,” he said.
The Pokémon Company was founded in 1998 in Tokyo by three companies — Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures. It manages the Pokémon brand, including the franchise’s video games, animated series, films, trading card game, and other ventures.
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