Nintendo and Google betting big on Pokemon Go with $20 million investment


Nintendo is betting big on its push into the mobile industry by investing $20 million in the former Google-owned Niantic Labs. The recently announced Pokemon Go is the next effort from the studio, which will be funded by Nintendo, The Pokemon Company, and Google themselves. The $20 million investment in Niantic comes from all three companies, with a further $10 million in funding should performance milestones be met.

According to John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic Labs, conceptual work for Pokemon Go began in 2014 after a Google Maps easter egg allowed millions of users to discover the 151 original Pokemon littered across the real world. After Google’s reorganization as Alphabet, Nintendo was keen to get in on the potential project.

Hanke says Nintendo is eager to get the game in the hands of players in emerging markets.

“They’re really excited about taking that idea out to emerging markets, where the phone may be the only piece of interactive technology that someone has access to,” Hanke said. “There’s a whole set of people around the world who are aware of Pokémon, but have never had the opportunity to play the game.”

This is the next logical step of evolution for Pokemon, as Pokemon Go will be available on millions more mobile devices than Nintendo could hope to sell handhelds in the next few years.

Hanke says his team plans to take everything they’ve learned while developing Ingress and incorporate that into Pokemon Go, including events organized by the company that get players to meet up and play together in the real world.