The data behind Pokemon Go

 

TLDR:

  • Pokemon GO has grown really fast;
  • It’s going to continue to grow fast;
  • It’s going to continue to make more money than it knows what to do with;
  • I HOPE this means Nintendo is making a comeback (but the jury’s out);

 

Pokemon Go has taken over the world. It’s unheard of the number of times I’ve seen stories snapped where groups of people stand in an unassuming place, eyes locked to their phones as they scour the virtual world for new Pokemon.

I’ve been intrigued by the rise of a game that was central to my generation’s childhood and partly-owned by the company (Nintendo) that we (used to) hold so dear to our hearts. I wanted to look at some of the numbers behind the game to get a clearer picture of what’s going on.

Downloads

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the day first: It’s not a secret that Pokemon Go has set an all-time record with the most number of downloads in its first week. 

According to Sensor Tower, Pokemon GO has been downloaded 30 million times (and growing) on iOS and Android combined. It’s also broken the record for the fastest mobile game to get to 10 million downloads, doing this in 7 days (the previous record was Clash Royale who reached the magical number in 9 days). To put this into context, one of the most successful games ever in terms of engagement and grossing figures, Candy Crush Saga, reached this in 12 days.

Usage

Since launch, Pokemon GO users have steadily increased the amount of time spent on the app to 75 minutes per day playing. One of the most popular apps over the past decade, Facebook, only received 35 minutes since GO’s launch.

While outright (or absolute usage) is one metric, a deeper level understanding will consider the relative change in other high-usage apps. Let’s look at Youtube and Snapchat. Looking  at usage of said apps a week before and after Pokemon GO’s release, both were down by 9% and 18% respectively.

 

While peak usage shows the numbers hovering at 25m people on July 14th and around 23m on July 20th, it’s still too early to tell whether this means that interest is waning.

It’s worth noting that the above graph is only for the US, meaning Pokemon Go’s popularity on the global scale is still growing. The game only became ‘officially’ available in Japan over the past week. In any case, users have been getting their hands on the game one way or another (at least if you’re on Android) – some usage stats have been published below of users installing the Android APK file.

Android usage on pokemongo.png

 

You might be asking why the Pokemon GO developers have been holding off on a global release (especially when we look at revenue generated so far below). Turns out, when you’ve got a game as popular as this on your hands, someone has to keep the lights (or servers) on. This requires a huge infrastructure upgrade to handle the number of requests the developers will need to handle.

Monetisation

The already-smash-hit game is free to download and play on iOS and Android. Like many games, in-app purchases are available to make you play longer and invest more time in the game so you can catch ’em all.

As of July 11, SensorTower estimated the game to bring in $1.6million per day on iOS devices alone. That estimate seems to be quite accurate as SuperData said Pokemon GO has made $14.04m since launch (from that date). If we estimate that out, that would mean a total of $33.24m has already been made (that’s just on iOS and assuming the game has brought in $1.6m/day).

Other financial gains have been made not only on the stock market – Nintendo’s market cap increase by over 65% at its peak since launch – but also from those looking to take advantage of the craze who aren’t direct users. For instance, restaurant owners and pubs have paid in-app money to use the Lure module and attract potential customers to their doorstep.

Final thoughts:

When I first came across the game, I thought (and still do think) that this is just a fad. A good fad that’s getting people walking and exploring their city. But a fad nonetheless. It’ll be hard for anyone to argue that it’ll reach the level what we saw in the opening week, but that’s not the point here. What I hope the rise of Pokemon GO will do is two things:

  1. Bring Nintendo back to relevance, introduce them to a whole a new (younger) audience and make them release the power of mobile gaming. Pokemon GO is going to make a truck load of cash (I’d like to see how this revenue stacks up against their other initiatives) but I hope this worldwide phenomenon will wake them up to what’s going and shift their long-term priorities going forward.
  2. An increase in the conceptualisation and execution of mixed-reality games. While the first wave (Pokemon GO) has been an unprecedented success, the second wave is likely to spawn a number of imitators that are chasing the money (think Rocket Internetisation of mobile games – remember how many FlappyBird copycats there were after it went offline?). Other games of this nature have launched in the past, and I’m sure once the hype dies down we’ll be able to understand how the ‘Pokemon’  brand and the nostalgia the game brought contributed to the game’s success. The next wave of mixed-reality / augmented reality games should take inspiration that there’s an audience out there, ready and waiting for what’s next.

 

For now, let’s just enjoy the ride as the craze only seems to be getting crazier.

 

Other articles to read on Pokemon Go:

 

 

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