Let's flash back to the heady days of summer, when people talked about things other than Donald Trump and the Russians. Instead, back in those more innocent times, it seemed as if no one would shut up about Pokemon Go.
Pokemon Go was the first big hit mobile game to use augmented reality (AR) technology. The downloadable app used players' smartphone cameras and screens to make users feel that they were really "seeing" digital characters superimposed over real life.
It was strange, but it was just what the world had been needing. Following its release in July, the game became the world's most downloaded app. In its first two weeks, more than 300 million users had downloaded it, outpacing even Twitter. And it was estimated that, during the Pokemon Go peak, players were visiting the app more than they were checking their Facebook accounts.
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However, there was a problem with Pokemon Go: how investors could take advantage of it. The game was developed by Niantic Labs, a private company, which had been spun off earlier from Alphabet. However, it used characters licensed from Nintendo.
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Although Nintendo didn't make a lot of money from Pokemon Go (merely receiving royalties), the popularity of the game sent the company's stock soaring. Within just two weeks of its release, shares of Nintendo rocketed up by more than 120%.
But then reality -- not the augmented kind -- set in. As investors realized that Nintendo would not be a big monetary winner from the game, and as players moved on to the next trend, the Pokemon Go bubble burst, and the company's shares quickly lost more than 30% of their value. And the game made barely a smudge on Niantic Labs' own bottom line.
Pokemon Go, like most mobile games (including the runaway success Candy Crush, developed by Activision Blizzard's King subsidiary), depended on in-app purchases to make money.
However, on Thursday Nintendo launched its first full-blown mobile game, Super Mario Run. Unlike Pokemon Go, Super Mario Run costs money to play in the first place -- $9.99 for a full-access download. It's currently just available for Apple's iOS, but an Android version is forthcoming. And it could deliver Nintendo's stock some great short-term gains.
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Nintendo made itself a household name through the sales of its beloved video game consoles. But with intense competition -- and stronger products -- from Microsoft and Sony, sales of Nintendo consoles have slumped. Although the company does well through licensing and royalties (as with Pokemon Go), the company needs a solid product to refuel its profit-making.
And Super Mario Run, using already-beloved and iconic Nintendo characters, could do just that. Because consumers are already familiar with the game's characters, there should be no problem getting millions of Mario fans to pay the less than $10 it takes to download. And it paves the way for many more mobile games from the 130-year-old company.
Nintendo's stock has had a great run this year so far. It's up by more than 70% year to date. But hang on to your (mushroom) hats: Analysts are suggesting there could be another quick 30% in there.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.