Japan's DeNA jumps 24% on Pokemon mobile card game launch

FILE PHOTO: Pokemon games are seen on sale in a GameStop in Manhattan, New York, U.S., Dec. 7, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

TOKYO (Reuters) - Shares in Japan's DeNA jumped 24% in Tokyo trading on Wednesday after the gaming company said it will launch a mobile version of the long-running Pokemon trading card game this year, with investors betting on the title becoming a hit.

"Pokemon Trading Card Game Pocket" from DeNa, the Pokemon Company and game company Creatures will launch on iOS and Android and allow players to collect and trade cards with classic and new designs and play quick battles, according to announcement material.

The Pokemon trading card game, itself based on the popular Nintendo video game franchise, launched in 1996 in Japan and later gained popularity in the United States, with more than 50 billion cards printed.

The business model, pioneered by American designer Richard Garfield in the 1990s, sees players battle head-to-head with decks of character cards aided by buying sealed booster packs containing various designs and with degrees of rarity.

In recent years trading cards have gained greater attention, with rare cards in pristine condition attaining frothy valuations in the volatile market for alternative assets.

Digital collectible card games have also become well established with popular titles including versions of "Magic", "Yu-Gi-Oh!" and "Hearthstone", which is based on the "Warcraft" franchise.

DeNa has worked on mobile games with Nintendo including "Mario Kart Tour" but has struggled for hits in the saturated mobile market against competition from Chinese rivals, with its shares down around 40% at the last close from a peak last May.

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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