Japan Pokémon Go delay hits Nintendo

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Nintendo is the company behind classic video games such as Mario.
Nintendo is the company behind classic video games such as Mario.

Nintendo's shares today gave up some of the meteoric gains made on the record-breaking success of the Pokémon Go mobile game, hurt in part by a reported delay for the game's introduction in Japan.

Game-maker Niantic delayed Wednesday's planned launch of Pokémon Go in Japan after a leaked McDonald's Japan internal communication found its way onto Internet forums, technology news site TechCrunch reported.

TechCrunch, citing an unnamed source, said there were concerns among the companies that the hype generated would overload the game. It added that it wasn't immediately clear when the game would be released in Japan.

TechCrunch said it believed the launch in Japan, one of the world's biggest gaming markets, was imminent.

Nintendo's stock was down 10% in afternoon trade. Even so, it has gained 87% since the 6 July launch of the game in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, adding $17 billion to its market capitalisation. It is now available in 35 countries.

A spokesperson for The Pokémon Company, which created the game along with Nintendo and Google spinoff Niantic, declined to comment on the report, reiterating that nothing had been decided about the Japan launch date. Nintendo referred any queries regarding Pokémon Go to The Pokémon Company.

Pokémon Go, which marries a classic 20-year-old franchise with augmented reality, is on its way to becoming the first mobile game to break the $4 billion-per-year wall, beating Candy Crush Saga and Supercell's Clash of Clans, according to Macquarie Research.

Shares of McDonald's Japan piggy-backed on the Pokémon Go hype, rising 8% after TechCrunch reported on Tuesday that the fast-food chain operator would become the game's first sponsor.

TechCrunch said the sponsorship would see McDonalds' 3 000-plus fast food restaurants across Japan become "gyms", or battlegrounds, for players.

McDonald's Japan shares soared as much as 23% to their highest level since late 2001 on Tuesday, the first day of trade since its stores started giving away Pokémon-themed toys with its Happy Meals last Friday.

McDonald's Japan declined to comment on the report.

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