Nintendo jumps on expectations of Pokemon Go launch in China

by BLOOMBERG

Nintendo Co. rose as much as 5 percent in Tokyo on expectations the hit Pokemon Go mobile title will get a release in China, the world’s largest gaming market.

Niantic Inc., developer of Pokemon Go, “absolutely intends to bring our existing games into China,” founder John Hanke told the Financial Times in an interview on Jan. 2. Releasing on the mainland would likely boost revenue and benefit its shareholders, which include Nintendo and China’s NetEase Inc. In the latest quarter, the Kyoto-based company booked 3.1 billion yen ($27 million) in income primarily attributed to Pokemon Go.

Partnering with a local company such as NetEase could smooth a path for a mainland release but there are still other hurdles to overcome. Games in China typically need to be registered with the government and Pokemon Go uses data supplied by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, a company that has most of its services blocked in the country.

Hanke didn’t mention a release time-frame. Nintendo declined to comment on a possible release date.

China’s gaming market was worth $32.5 billion in 2017, compared with $25.4 billion in second-place the U.S. and $14 billion in Japan, according to researcher Newzoo.