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Pokémon Go’s success inspires Churchill Downs’ Big Fish division

Churchill Downs CEO William C. Carstanjen, with the logo of Big Fish Games, said Thursday that teams in the Louisville gambling and racetrack company’s Big Fish Games division have been watching the global success of Pokémon Go.
Churchill Downs CEO William C. Carstanjen, with the logo of Big Fish Games, said Thursday that teams in the Louisville gambling and racetrack company’s Big Fish Games division have been watching the global success of Pokémon Go. Herald-Leader

Would you play Ponymon Go? Perhaps search for animated equines?

Teams in the Louisville gambling and racetrack company’s Big Fish Games division have been watching the global success of Pokémon Go with great interest, Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said Thursday.

He didn’t announce a new game, but Carstanjen was far from ruling it out when asked about the prospect during Thursday’s conference call about Churchill’s second-quarter earnings.

“I get excited anytime you see phenomenon like Pokémon Go, because it just stands for the proposition that innovation can really drive interest to the space in general and create new opportunities for all of us, especially those of us willing to be fast followers when we’re capable,” Carstanjen said

Which Big Fish Games might be.

Churchill has resources focused internally on the virtual reality “space,” which is different from the augmented reality of Pokémon Go, in which players search real-world locations for game characters that appear on their mobile devices, he said.

“We don’t know how virtual reality or other forms of augmented reality will impact social mobile games. We don’t expect to necessarily be the ones to spot the innovation and act on it, but our mindset is to be fast followers and find variations of where we’ve seen success in the marketplace. ... So we keep our eyes on those spaces and try to invest up front … as those markets develop.”

Besides, “it’s just exciting,” he said. “Seeing 40-year-old men stumble around, trip over benches at the mall as they try to find the Pokémon creatures … that’s great to see. That’s fun.”

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