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Nintendo reaping benefits of Pokemon Go craze

MoneyWatch Headlines for July 11, 2016
Whopping $4 billion payout for UFC owners, and other MoneyWatch headlines 01:15

It's the global video game craze that is getting players, and the odd criminal or two, out of their bedrooms and into the real world.

Pokemon Go is already a smash hit, with downloads of the "augmented reality" game from Nintendo amounting to roughly 5 percent of all Android devices in the U.S. only days after the game was released last week, CNET reports. It's also the most downloaded iPhone app, even topping dating app Tinder. Love is grand, but nothing, it seems, beats capturing a Squirtle.

Nintendo is certainly capturing the financial gains. Shares of the Japanese gaming company are up 60 percent since Pokemon Go's July 6 launch, adding more than $9 billion to Nintendo's market capitalization.

Pokemon Go's popularity highlights the commercial potential of augmented reality, which goes beyond virtual reality technology by overlaying digital information on top of the real world. Venture capital investors have put more than $3.5 billion into augmented and VR reality companies over the past two years, according to Goldman Sachs (GS).

Pokemon Go was developed by Niantic, a spinoff of Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL). A range of other high-tech heavyweights are also crowding into the virtual and augmented reality field, including Facebook (FB), Sony (SNE) and Samsung.

In Pokemon Go, which is available as a free download, players pursue digital creatures from the game in the real world. Users see what looks like an animated version of Google Maps, with rustling grass indicating that Pokemon are in the area and local landmarks concealing additional critters. Players' phones buzz when a Pokemon is in the vicinity and can be captured.

Pokemon Go isn't all fun and profit, however. Four men used the game to commit a string of robberies in Missouri, CBS affiliate KMOV reported. There have also been reports of a few bumps and bruises as players, eyeballs glued to their screens in pursuit of the elusive Pokemon, get a rude reminder of obstacles in the real world.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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