Fri, Jul 22, 2016 - Page 10 News List

McDonald’s Japan unit working with ‘Pokemon’

MONEY MAKER:Others are cashing in on the trend, with a Chinese firm doing a live-action film and Apple Inc forecast to rake in US$3 billion from ‘PokeCoin’ sales


Pokemon Go players begin a group walk along the Embarcadero on Wednesday in San Francisco.

Photo: AP

McDonald’s Japanese business said it is working with the developers of Pokemon Go as they bring the hit Nintendo Co game to the country.

McDonald’s Holdings Co, the fast-food giant’s affiliate in Japan, expects to start collaborating with Pokemon Go soon, according to a statement responding to news reports.

Developers are working intensely on the Japanese version of the smartphone-based game so that it runs smoothly, the company said.

Earlier this week, the company announced it would feature figurines based on Pokemon characters such as Pikachu in its Happy Meals.

Pokemon Go, which spurs players to venture into the real world and “catch” creatures using their smartphones, has sparked a worldwide frenzy. McDonald’s Japanese business is forecasting its first annual sales gain in eight years, as the company recovers from a series of food scandals.

The game, which can be downloaded for free to users’ smartphones, may help retailers and restaurants attract customers into their establishments in search of virtual creatures.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on McDonald’s collaboration with Pokemon Go, saying its restaurants in Japan would serve as key locations for players.

For now, McDonald’s will not offer any Pokemon figurines with Happy Meals at its US locations, said Lisa McComb, a spokeswoman for the Oak Brook, Illinois-based chain.

“We’re focused on The Secret Life of Pets and there are no Pokemon-themed toys planned at this time in the US,” McComb said.

Separately, Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s (王健林) Legendary Entertainment LLC will team up with the developers of the popular Pokemon Go game to make a live-action film based on the creatures.

Legendary, which is partnering with The Pokemon Co, will begin production next year for the movie, which will feature Detective Pikachu, according to a statement from the companies on Wednesday.

Toho Co will distribute the movie in Japan and Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures will do so internationally, according to the statement.

Legendary, a unit of Wang’s Dalian Wanda Group Co (大連萬達集團), is seeking to be the latest beneficiary of the frenzy surrounding Pokemon Go. The game’s popularity has led shares of Nintendo to nearly double this month, making it the best-performing stock on the MSCI World Index.

Since Pokemon was first introduced in Japan in 1996, more than 279 million video games based on the characters have been sold worldwide.

Meanwhile, Apple Inc stands to rake in US$3 billion in revenue from the Pokemon Go craze in the next one to two years as gamers buy “PokeCoins” from its app store, brokerage Needham & Co said.

Pokemon Go can be downloaded for free, but iPhone users can use PokeCoins to purchase additional features.

A pack of 100 PokeCoins costs US$0.99 in Apple’s app store, but the price can go up as much as US$99.99 for a pack of 14,500.

“We believe Apple keeps 30 percent of Pokemon Go’s revenue spent on iOS devices, suggesting upside to earnings,” Needham analyst Laura Martin wrote in a client note on Wednesday.

Pokemon Go, which has been rolled out in 35 countries, is also available on Android devices.

Martin said Pokemon Go’s ratio of paid users to total users was 10 times that of Candy Crush, the hit game from King Digital that generated more than US$1 billion of revenue in both 2013 and 2014.

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