SAN FRANCISCO — A funny thing happened at Apple’s big event on Wednesday. It started off more like an ad for Nintendo than it did for Apple.
The maker of iEverything announced early on in its latest iPhone presentation that a new Super Mario game (about the iconic plumber, not ECB chief Mario Draghi) would be available in Apple’s iOS store later this year.
Tim Cook introduced Super Mario — and Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto — to raucous applause. Miyamoto showed off the “Super Mario Run” game, which had a retro 80s feel, to an adoring crowd.
Wall Street cheered the news as well. Nintendo’s U.S. listed stock surged nearly 25% in mid-afternoon trading. (That’s a lot of 1 UP mushrooms!)
Apple also said Nintendo’s uber-popular Pokemon Go mobile augmented reality game would be coming to the next version of the Apple Watch as well. Nintendo is an owner of Niantic, the private company that developed Pokemon Go.
Cook and Niantic CEO John Hanke showed off a picture of the Apple Watch with a wild Snorlax character on it.
Nintendo invested $20 million in Niantic last year. A joint venture known as the Pokemon Company — which manages the trading cards, TV series and other licensing and brand opportunities — also owns a stake in Niantic. Nintendo owns a stake in that too.
Google parent Alphabet also owns a piece of Niantic. Google spun off Niantic last year following the company’s Alphabet reorganization.
But Nintendo has been the biggest winner by far from Pokemon Go. Its stock has more than doubled this year.
But investors have also been excited by the fact that the company now seems more willing to make games based on Mario and other popular Nintendo characters for smartphones and other mobile devices.
So the latest Apple news could lead to more revenue for Nintendo. Nintendo didn’t say how much the new Super Mario iOS game would cost … but it won’t be free.