During its latest earnings results, Nintendo revealed that The Pokémon Company's augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go had a big impact on hardware sales of its Nintendo 3DS handheld. This comes ahead of the launch of Pokémon Sun and Moon in November.
Nintendo's fiscal results (available in full here) state: "The release of the smart device application Pokémon GO led to increased sales of software in the Pokémon series released in the past and drove the Nintendo 3DS family hardware sales growth, particularly outside of Japan."
During the six-month period from 1 April to 30 September, 2.71 million Nintendo 3DS consoles were sold – a 19% increase year on year. Games such as Fire Emblem Fates (outside of Japan) and Monster Hunter Generations launched during this period.
Despite the year-on-year growth both Nintendo 3DS and Wii U are in decline – the latter effectively dead. Nintendo announced its next major piece of hardware, Nintendo Switch, on 20 October ahead of a March 2017 release.
Nintendo specifically mentioned Pokémon Go however, which proved a theme during its fiscal results despite Nintendo's share in its success being limited in terms of ownership and access to profits (they own a third of The Pokémon Company, which made the game with Niantic).
Launching in most major territories in July, Pokémon became a worldwide phenomenon, recently becoming the fastest ever mobile game to hit $600 million in revenues. It reached the milestone two and a half times faster than Candy Crush Saga.
Of the ¥12 billion in income Nintendo made from investments in affiliated companies, most came from The Pokémon Company due to Pokémon Go.
Pokémon Sun and Moon launches on 18 November and given both Go's success and the success of other Pokémon titles on 3DS, hopes are high. Pokémon X and Y are the biggest selling 3DS titles to date, shipping a combined 15.64 units since 2013. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which launched a year later, have sold 13.18 million units combined.
Nintendo's fiscal forecast made mention of plans to release Sun and Moon for Nintendo 3DS this November and a port of Super Mario Maker in December. It also noted the NES Classic Edition, a sub-£100 plug-and-play system to be launched in November.
The Nintendo Switch, which was unveiled last week, was also mentioned. The company describes the device as offering "a wholly new concept as a home gaming system that can switch between different styles of play."
Switch is a combined home and handheld device which could feasibly replace the 3DS as well as the Wii U, though that will depend on success. Nintendo will not abandon 3DS in a hurry as over 60 million units have now been sold worldwide.