November 1, 2019 / 2:26 AM / 21 days ago

Nintendo to begin testing Mario Kart Tour multiplayer

An attendee uses a Nintendo Switch game console while playing a video game at the Paris Games Week (PGW), a trade fair for video games in Paris, France, October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nintendo Co Ltd (7974.T) said on Friday it would begin testing a multiplayer option for its Mario Kart Tour mobile game in December, a step towards the full multiplayer mode demanded by players and seen as essential to boosting the title’s revenues.

A major test of Nintendo’s shift to mobile, Mario Kart Tour currently lacks the option to race against friends, leaving the game without a key element that has helped make it one of Nintendo’s longest running franchises.

Nintendo’s shares jumped almost 7% on Friday, a day after the Japanese gaming company also reported strong demand for a low-cost version of its hybrid home-portable Switch console.

Nintendo said on Thursday it sold almost 2 million units of its handheld-only Switch Lite device in the 10 days after its September launch, with the company’s operating profit doubling in the second quarter.

Switch Lite is being purchased by many gamers as a second device and is also gaining traction among female players, Nintendo said, helping expand the device’s mainstream appeal beyond a hardcore gaming contingent.

As Nintendo bolsters its hardware and software lineup ahead of the year-end holiday shopping season, the latest high profile Switch release, Luigi’s Mansion 3, went on sale on Thursday to a positive critical reception.

Nintendo is not the only gaming company looking to mobile to bolster revenues, with Konami Holdings Corp (9766.T) on Thursday launching a mobile version of its long running LovePlus dating sim series in Japan.

Konami's shares were trading up 4.2% at the midday break in Tokyo. Nintendo's shares were up 5.9%, with the benchmark index .N225 down 0.4%.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Tom Hogue

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