25 September 2016

DIGITAL - Pokémon GO Popularity is Declining

Pokémon GO peaked on July 15 with around 45 million active users.

(Chris Helgren, Reuters)
At that point the game was making more than all other mobile games combined. The mobile game was revolutionizing Augmented Reality (AR), and suddenly bringing the Internet of Things to the front of people’s minds.

The game, and its immediate uptake among an unprecedented number of users, was the first of its kind in terms of immediate enthusiasm and user engagement.

It had, and has, implications for anyone interacting with the digital world (which, at this point, is nearly everyone).

Now, the game’s popularity is in decline.

Interest in Augmented Reality, which was piqued by Pokémon Go’s popularity, has also started to decline, while interest in Virtual Reality (VR) remains high.

Was all the hype about AR unwarranted? Probably not.

AR intersects with the Internet of Things in ways that VR currently cannot – products like Microsoft’s HoloLens allow for a blending of digital and physical worlds that even the coolest Vive game can’t.

Despite that, both industries are growing, and with the development of the Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance (VRVCA) and the continued interest in AR technologies such as the award winning HoloAnatomy for HoloLens, that growth isn’t likely to stop anytime soon.

So while the AR hype will probably fade for a while, the industry remains vibrant and growing, and Pokémon Go’s success will be something that developers look to recreate.

Pokémon Go’s popularity decline is probably not just a temporary dip.

So, is Pokémon Go is on its way out?

Again, probably not. Between mid-July and mid-August, the game lost approximately 25% of its active users, and a linear projection would see the game dead in the water by winter.

However, the decline is not surprising.

The average mobile game only maintains 22 percent of users a month after they first play the game. Other estimates put that number even lower.

Even if the game loses users at the standard rate, there will be a “long tail” of user engagement. Ars Technica estimates that it’s possible as many as 26 million people could still be playing the game in mid-2017.

Niantic’s plans to release Legendary Pokémon in special events are sure to draw the older fans back into the mobile game even if they’ve dropped off from daily play.

And the developer has other plans to continue engaging players, including the introduction of player-versus-player battles.

There are many ways the game can keep itself afloat, and regardless of where Pokémon Go ends up, the doors it has opened for marketers, developers, and users won’t be closing anytime soon.

By Tiffany Sostar
Tiffany is a writer, editor, academic, and animal lover who came late to her appreciation of pets. At 18, a rescue pup named Tasha saved her from a depression and she hasn't looked back. She has worked as the canine behaviour program coordinator for the Calgary Humane Society, and was a dog trainer specializing in working with fearful and reactive dogs for many years. She doesn't have any pets right now, but makes up for it by giving her petsitting clients (and any dogs she comes across on her frequent coffee shop adventures) extra snuggles.

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