Nintendo on Friday is launching a popular Japanese videogame in North America, the next chapter for a franchise that has raked in more than $2 billion in sales of games, toys and more.
The franchise about hunting ghost-like creatures, made by Level-5 Inc., is so popular in Japan that it spawned a television show and movie, a dance craze, and toys that sell out across the country.
If that all sounds familiar, it’s because Nintendo helped generate a similar frenzy on playgrounds nearly two decades ago with “Pokémon,” another Japanese game about hunting magical creatures. To date, that franchise has sold about 275 million copies, which Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter pegs at about $8 billion in sales.
“Yo-kai Watch” and a sequel have combined to sell 8 million copies. Based on their success in Japan, the new version for Nintendo’s 3DS hand-held machine could bring in “hundreds of millions of dollars” in revenue if it takes off in the U.S., said Sartori Bernbeck, an analyst for industry tracker EEDAR.