Bloomberg Businessweek explores Nintendo’s 130-year-old history from hanafuda cards to the immense success of investing in Niantic and Pokémon GO

Bloomberg Businessweek has put together an article that delves into Nintendo’s 130-year-old extensive history, from hanafuda cards to the immense success of investing in Niantic and Pokémon GO. You can check out a few excerpts via the following passages:

For anyone who’s ever marveled at Nintendo’s vivid, phantasmagoric, zoologically ornate video games, visiting the company’s understated home in Kyoto, Japan, can be disorienting at first. That such an outpouring of kaleidoscopic products comes from a place so devoid of color can be momentarily hard to fathom. The headquarters are housed in a stark white cubical building surrounded on the perimeter by a sturdy white wall. The lobby is minimally decorated. The sidewalls are sheathed in cool white marble. No Donkey Kong posters. No Mario cutouts. No Pikachu plush toys. The rare sprinkling of color comes from a series of small, framed art pieces: a serene procession of birds and flowers. One Tuesday morning in April, the place gave off the reflective vibe of a monastery or, perhaps, a mental asylum.

On the top floor of the building, Tatsumi Kimishima, Nintendo Co.’s president, took a seat in a wood-paneled conference room, next to a translator. A crescent of handlers settled into chairs nearby while a server brought out cups of hot green tea. She padded quietly about the room, making sure not to obstruct anyone’s line of sight to the president, shuffling sideways here, dipping there, like a spy limboing past a laser-triggered alarm system. Not a drop was spilled.

As the tea was served, Kimishima eased into a laconic summary of Nintendo’s affairs. The past year and a half had been eventful, with the company vaulting back from the brink of irrelevance to reclaim its position atop the global video game industry. Kimishima summed up the triumphant drama with monkish self-restraint: “Certainly, we have been pleased.”

But investors’ faith continued to dim, and Nintendo shifted course. In the spring of 2015, it took a 10 percent stake in DeNA Co., a Japanese company that specialized in smartphone games and services. Several months later, it invested an undisclosed sum in Niantic Inc., a San Francisco-based app developer that had been spun off from Google. Nintendo was preparing to let Mario roam free.

Around that time, Iwata passed away from complications stemming from bile duct cancer, and Kimishima took over. Where Iwata was an accomplished game developer, Kimishima had spent more than two decades working for Sanwa Bank Ltd. He was known internally at Nintendo as a strong logistical planner and a generous mentor to younger executives.

The following year, Niantic released Pokémon Go, a mobile game that thrust Nintendo back into the news. In the 1990s, the company had paired Miyamoto with Pokémon’s creator, Satoshi Tajiri, to help him design the original Pokémon games. It now co-owns Pokémon Co., which handles licensing and marketing for the multiheaded entertainment hydra of TV shows, trading cards, comic books, and toys based on seemingly endless permutations of the fictional creatures.

Within hours of its arrival, Pokémon Go was a sensation. The game sent countless players wandering giddily around neighborhoods, shopping malls, and parks to capture Pokémon who’d been digitally embedded around the Earth, appearing on users’ screens when they drew near. Technically, Nintendo had played a peripheral role in the advent of Pokémon Go, but the phenomenon had some investors diagnosing early stage Nintendo Mania.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

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