Nintendo doesn’t publish the game, but it’s an investor in and partner of the company that does: Niantic Labs, which spun out of Google last year, released the game in the U.S. on July 6, where it immediately shot to the top of the free chart on Apple’s iTunes App Store.
The gains for Nintendo come after its stock rose 9% last Friday on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. On Monday, the stock closed at 20,260 yen per share, up 24.5% for the day.
A rep for San Francisco-based Ninantic said Saturday the company did not currently have estimates on the number of Pokemon Go downloads or active users. According to analytics firm SimilarWeb, as of July 8, Pokemon Go was installed on 5.16% of all Android devices in the U.S.
Pokemon Go uses augmented reality and GPS to let players hunt for — and capture — Pokémon monsters that appear virtually in the world all around them. The smartphone vibrates when there’s a Pokémon nearby, and users must throw a Poké Ball to nab them. The game also features “PokéStops,” at locations like museums, art installations, historical markers and monuments, to let gamers stock up on Poké Balls and other items.
The game has unleashed a torrent of activity on social media, with reports of players using drones to hunt for Pokemon, a crime gang in Missouri using the game to rob victims at gunpoint, and a Wyoming teen discovery a dead body while playing the game.
Pokemon Go has also inspired a raft of Internet memes:
— POKEMON GO! (@OfficialPokeGO) July 9, 2016
The game is currently available in the U.S, Australia and New Zealand. It’s free to download and play, but offers in-app purchases for players to stock up on their Pokemon, hatch new monsters and join other players in battles. Wall Street analysts estimate the game is generating up to $5 million per day in revenue in its first days of release, and the craze for Pokemon Go in its initial markets has fueled optimism for the game’s potential in Japan and elsewhere.
Last October, Niantic Labs raised $20 million in funding from Nintendo, the Pokemon Co. and Google. According to Ninatic, its first game, the augmented-reality massively multiplayer online title Ingress, has been downloaded more than 14 million times in more than 200 countries worldwide.