On July 6th, 2016 a worldwide phenomenon began. Pokémon GO is a location-based augmented reality game has taken over the world. Children and adults alike all seem to be playing, and the success of the game has given a Nintendo its largest weekly share price gain in more than 30 years. While the game is free to download, the in-app purchases are pulling in big bucks. So, Pokémon, a seemingly collapsing franchise, has been resurrected by this location-based augmented reality style of game. Can Disney, a company that is stronger than it has ever been, reproduce that success?
Disney is always looking for a way to make more money. As Disney fans we all know this to be true. Pokémon GO has proven to pull in big money, which must have CEOs like Bob Iger looking to cash in on the success that Nintendo and Niantic (the developing company for the game) have found. As of July 15th, 2016, this game has added a healthy $17 billion to Nintendo’s market value. That is a massive increase. To put that into perspective, the market value of Lord of the Rings and Twilight together is only $12 billion. And Pokémon GO isn’t finished; Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke said while the game has been released to the USA, UK, Australia, Germany, and a few others countries, that the game still has about 200 markets left to be released to.
The infrastructure of Disney’s augmented reality game could be very similar to Pokémon GO’s. Instead of capturing Pokémon, users could become friends with Mickey, Minnie, and the rest of the Disney list of intellectual properties like Pixar characters. With the Disney Parks, they also have the opportunity to have a physical location that could be the center of this game. The parks could offer special characters, or items that could draw in guests. But really, it isn’t up to me to decide how this game should be played, and how similar it has to be to Pokémon GO, but it seems logical to reproduce their own version of the success of something this huge.
A huge problem with Disney reproducing a similar game is the likelihood that they would immediately be sued by Nintendo and/or Niantic. This is the giant holdup in why a Disney version of Pokémon GO may never come to pass. If Disney could somehow make a deal with Nintendo and Niantic to allow them to create a similar game, it could have a huge payoff for all three companies. Nintendo and Niantic must understand the power of the Disney fan base, and the must also understand that there are people refusing to play Pokémon GO simply because it is a “Pokémon game.” A number of those naysayers wouldn’t feel the same way about the game if it involved their favorite Disney pals.
Whether or not Disney jumps on this bandwagon, someone else will. If Disney misses this opportunity, they might watch as Harry Potter, or another non-Disney intellectual property, takes this game to new heights.
Photos: Labeled for reuse and CNN Money