The phenomenal success of Pokémon Go

Let’s start with the basics: What exactly is Pokémon? The Pokémon franchise was the brain child of Satoshi Tajiri in …

Published by

Alexis Pratsides


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Let’s start with the basics:

What exactly is Pokémon?

The Pokémon franchise was the brain child of Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, who had a particular fondness for catching insects and tadpoles near his home in downtown Tokyo. The game itself is centered on a selection of fictional creatures called “Pokémon”, which humans, known as Pokémon Trainers, catch and train to battle each other for sport.

Pokémon exploded onto the scene as a pair of video games for the original Game Boy and was developed by Game Freak with Nintendo as the publisher. It has since developed into a full blown Trading Card game, TV series, films, soundtracks and comics.

All had been quiet since Pokémon X and Y was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013, before the new mobile app version bust onto the scene in the US on July 6, 2016 and on July 13th in Europe.

The Premise

It was a simple one.

Take the world of Pokémon, design and create an app for it, make it available on one of the 2 billion smart mobile phones worldwide, integrate it into augmented reality, which is only one step away from full blown virtual reality (THE hot topic of summer 2016) and get people up and about in the real world.

Sound simple? Well that is exactly why the game has exploded onto the scene and taken the world by storm.

You cannot walk 5 minutes around London now without spotting someone playing the game.

Astonishing stats

Pokémon Go has left a multitude of App Store records in it’s wake, and it’s easy to see why. Some of these statistics include:

  • most downloads on the App Store in a launch week
  • 50 million downloads on Google Play in a single weekend
  • 75 million installs across iOS and Android since launch
  • 25 million daily active users since launch
  • 63% of users in the U.S. are female
  • 46% of the users are between 18 and 29
  • users are spending $6 million a day on in-app purchases

This is all in just the first 37 launch countries – 70 more countries are set to follow in the coming weeks.

To put that into context, Tinder launched in 2012 and just this weekend it has reached 100m downloads. That is a startling take up rate for a new product.

It’s now so popular that it’s now directly competing with Twitter in terms of daily active users. Part of the reason for this popularity is unquestionably that it’s free, so it’s extremely easy to download and start playing and is therefore very popular among the younger demographics.

If it’s free, where is the money made?

This will have been on the minds of the creators for a while, and it is no surprise that there are plans in the works for monetising the game, including Sponsored Pokéstops and Sponsored Pokémon Gyms

In app purchases are currently steady at $6m per day, with no sign of this letting up. That’s a whopping $2.1b per year for some in game currency. Not bad as a starter for 10.

Nintendo’s value skyrockets, then crashes

Nintendo’s value soared by $23 billion in the days after the release of Pokémon Go as demand for stock reached the same levels of hype as the game itself – a staggering 120% increase on the pre-launch valuation.

This represents the single biggest jump in the company’s fortunes since the mid 1980s, and just for a short time, even helped Nintendo to leapfrog it’s closest rival Sony in terms if value.

Keen to stop the roller coaster before it got too far out of control, Nintendo was quick to point out that it doesn’t ‘actually’ make Pokémon GO – it owns a minority stake in The Pokémon Company, which partnered with developer Niantic, to make the game. This caused a rush to sell shares and wiped out $6.4 billion of it’s total value earlier this week, its single biggest one day decline since 1990.

Still, that leaves the Japanese gaming giant in a much better place than it started July in, and makes Pokémon GO one of the most valuable games of all time.

The Pokémon Go Effect

As mentioned, the gaming public have gone bananas for these little creatures, so much so that when a rare one appears, the crowds are a sight to behold once word gets out of a special location.

Playing in downtown Hong Kong

Playing Pokemon Go in Hong Kong

A Vaperon is spotted in Central Park

Searching the Ocean for Pokemon

What are they all looking for?

Generally speaking, the rarer the Pokémon, the more powerful it is – and everyone wants a powerful Pokémon in their collection in preparation for their next big battle. Currently there are 151 ‘Generation 1’ characters in Pokémon Go. Here are the 15 rarest:

  • Magmar
  • Venusaur
  • Blastoise
  • Charizard
  • Aerodactyl
  • Tauros
  • Snorlax
  • Lapras
  • Porygon
  • Kangaskhan
  • Mr. Mime
  • Farfetch’d
  • Dragonite
  • The Legendaries
  • Ditto

Top help you on your progress in the game, here is a handy visual guide to the rarer Pokémon Go

Rare Pokemon

Some smart folks even tapped into the Niantic API to grab the location of all the Pokemon near your current location and display them on the map in real-time; but this was shut down very quickly by the powers that be to avoid ‘spoiling the gaming experience’.

Have you managed to find any of the above? If so, you are one of the lucky ones!

Safety Advice

As the uptake of the new game went stratospheric, concerns started to be raised over the safety of people playing the game, particularly children. Incidents started to trickle through of people getting themselves into trouble, some quite serious, whilst playing the game. Below is just a small selection of these stories from around the world:

Jimmy Kimmel compiled an amusing montage of News Stories relating to these Pokémon Go incidents.

This resulted in multiple announcements across the country from local police warning of the potential dangers (Warwickshire, North Yorkshire) to the NSPCC and the West Midlands Fire Service.

Helpful Hints

If you have managed to download the game and become addicted whilst reading this article, then Mashable recently published a very handy Pokémon Cheat Sheet. Enjoy =]

Pokemon Go Cheat Sheet

Breaking news

A text has just come in that a Chansey has been spotted in Soho. Time to wrap this up and go catch me some little fellas…

Created by

Alexis Pratsides

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