Pokémon Go – And what it says about the transformation of Nintendo

Six months ago Nintendo was declared dead. But with the release of the augmented reality (AR) app Pokemon Go last Tuesday, Nintendo was able to resurrect its entertainment business. This worldwide phenomenon has increased Nintendo’s stock by $9 billion in just two days and has already eclipsed Twitter and Tinder user numbers. Was Nintendo just lucky to hit spot on the mark with this game?


What can companies learn from Nintendo’s roller coaster journey?

In 2014, former company president Satoru Iwata said Nintendo had tried to "create something new from materials and technologies available at that time and to position entertainment as its core business”. Two years later, Nintendo has launched a killer app, which accomplishes Iwata’s vision. The game is a perfect mix of what users care about, with something that is relevant today: it capitalises on nostalgia, creates exclusivity, is social, encourages physical activity and it merges legacy branding with storytelling and new technology platforms.

Number 1 rule for sustainable success in a digital world: Stop adhering to the past

This app could only be created because Nintendo moved on and embraced change. Instead of going the path themselves, they built on the brand’s strength and collaborated on tech. More importantly, though, the established company is finally listening to the market and has successfully transformed their anti-mobile culture towards an innovative and agile business.

Today’s businesses find themselves in a similar situation: customer wants and needs, spurred by digital innovations, are changing rapidly. Established companies, regardless of their industry, need the agility and the know-how to think digitally, to best serve their customers’ evolving expectations. This requires new processes and organisational structures but most importantly it needs total cultural reorientation.

Related: Unlock business success through sales transformation

Nintendo didn’t always sell video games. It's a company that over its 125-year history evolved from card company, to toy company, to electronic toy company to a video game company and lastly a mobile game company. It continuously sensed its customers and transformed the organisation repeatedly to meet the customers’ needs and wants.

Now, the latest big success story doesn’t mean that Nintendo is saved. The digital world keeps moving at break-neck speed and digital transformation is a constant journey of leveraging the best technology tools and creating new products and service experiences for customers.


durhamlane is partner to clients who have successfully started their business transformation journeys. Our team of leadership coaches and change management experts has supported them to change into genuinely customer-centric organisations.

Our bespoke Business Transformation workshops facilitate corporate innovation and change programmes. They will give you and your key team members the space needed for clear and creative thinking, addressing the business and cultural issues of the day and devising business transformation plans you can take forward with confidence.

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