Nintendo has the first evidence of a virtuous cycle between its smartphone and console businesses: buoyed by the success of Pokémon Go on mobile, Pokémon Sun and Moon for 3DS is the most pre-sold game in the company's history.
Ever since Nintendo first announced its mobile strategy, its management team have reinforced the idea that it regarded smartphone games as a way of building interest in its console products. Niantic's Pokémon Go has been the biggest hit in mobile this year, earning $600 million in revenue in just 90 days, according to App Annie - faster than previous standard-bearers like Clash of Clans, Puzzle & Dragons and Candy Crush Saga.
In that context, the surge in popularity of other Pokémon products should be no great surprise. Indeed, in an article for GamesIndustry.biz in July, Rob Fahey predicted this very outcome, arguing that "it's hard to imagine it cannibalising a single sale" of the new 3DS titles. "On the contrary," he said, "the massive boost in visibility of and interest in the franchise is likely to turn this year's 3DS game launches into the most successful Pokemon titles in many years."
However, while this isn't quite the relationship that Nintendo wants to nurture; Pokémon Go is, after all, a game from Niantic and The Pokémon Company. In a financial report this week, Nintendo revealed it had made $114 million from the game - a tidy profit, of course, but a small slice of the money Pokémon Go has earned.
Speaking to Bloomberg yesterday, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima admitted to his surprise at Pokémon Go's success, but it is now a yardstick for the forthcoming Super Mario Run.
"There's no doubt that more people are using smartphones to play games," he said. "And as this time we're using Mario, that's a very important intellectual property for us. And that's what Miyamoto's team is working on now: making sure it spreads out just as quickly as Pokemon Go.
"Our main business is the hardware/software business. In addition, our smartphone business has helped sell a lot of our existing packages. And it has really proved our original thesis: by releasing our software on the smartphone, it positively impacts our existing hardware and software business.
"That's precisely the synergy effect we were expecting. And as that has been proven correct, we have more confidence."