Nintendo shares dumped after Super Mario release

PHOTO: Reuters

Tokyo - Nintendo shares dived Friday after the release of its Super Mario Run mobile phone game, with analysts citing concern over the high price tag despite the app topping download charts.

Coming on the heels of the Pokemon Go craze this summer, the game was released for iPhone only in about 150 countries on Thursday, a key test for Nintendo's fledgling foray into mobile gaming.

But investors pressed the sell button on Nintendo stock, which had soared nearly 12 per cent between the September announcement of Super Mario Run's planned release and Thursday's close.

On Friday, the Tokyo-listed shares tumbled 4.24 per cent to close at 26,405 yen (S$320). Earlier in the session the stock fell more than five per cent, wiping almost $2 billion off Nintendo's market value.

Shares in DeNA, Nintendo's co-developer on the game, plunged 6.78 per cent to 2,857 yen.

The game - featuring the iconic Italian plumber trying to rescue Princess Peach - debuted at the top of download rankings in over 60 countries including Japan, Germany, Australia and Britain, according to market researcher SensorTower.

But some analysts warned that the nearly $15 price tag to buy the full version - the initial stages are free - could scare away some customers. Pokemon Go is free.

As well, Android users will not be able to buy the new game until a later date.

"Having a fixed price tag means profit will be limited because smartphone games make big money through free-to-play features," said Tomoaki Kawasaki, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Securities.

It is unclear how much the game will impact Nintendo's finances.

"Some investors who may have overestimated the expected revenue from downloads seem to be disappointed," Daiwa Securities analyst Takao Suzuki told AFP.

"Super Mario Run was in the top spot in download rankings and in sales in many European countries, while in the US it is number one in downloads but seventh by revenue.

"Sales in the US leave a bit to be desired." The shares may continue to struggle next week, Suzuki added.

"But I don't think they will keep sliding further... It seems that short-term investors sold their shares. For longer-term investors there is no need to be concerned," he said.

Nintendo refused for years to move into smartphone gaming or license its characters for online play.

But as the Kyoto-based giant struggled to repair its battered balance sheet, it changed course and announced last year it was teaming up with DeNA to develop games for smartphones and tablets based on its host of popular characters.

In March, Nintendo released its first mobile game "Miitomo" - a free-to-play and interactive game that allows users to create avatars.

Then the Pokemon Go game - based on Nintendo characters - exploded on to the market, sparking a phenomenon as it was downloaded more than half a billion times.

But it was only partly Nintendo's creation - the game is owned by San Francisco-based Niantic - and it has had little impact on the firm's bottom line.

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