No, ‘Pokemon GO’ Isn’t Dying, Despite What Reports Are Saying

Pokemon GO – we’ve literally all heard of it, and there’s an awfully good chance that we’ve all at least tried it. For a while, the game was more successful than even Twitter and Google Maps, according to SurveyMonkey, peaking at roughly 45 million daily users. But the game’s user base has started to decline and many didn’t wait to make some dire predictions, saying that the game was “dying” and “losing the battle.”

In particular, an article from Bloomberg, citing a study by Axiom Capital Management, suggested that “investor concerns about the impact of Pokemon Go” could now safely be dismissed and that “Google Trends data is already showing declining interest in augmented reality.”

And the reality is that the app has lost some 12 million daily users since its peak, and there’s no doubt that’s a pretty big number. But numbers mean nothing without context, and the context here is that Pokemon GO is doing great.

'GO' players are becoming a common sight in public places the world over.
'GO' players are becoming a common sight in public places the world over. [Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images]

When we talk about online and mobile gaming, we have to talk about retention – the number of players who keep playing. Think of launch day for a well-known game like the opening weekend of a big-name movie, very few ever have a bad launch as far as users go, and Pokemon GO’s launch went way beyond expectations. That was responsible for a lot of Pokemon GO’s server troubles during the first couple weeks of the American launch, but it’s also why Niantic Labs didn’t have more servers in place and didn’t rush out to buy more servers. Like everyone else who has ever studied video game statistics – and Niantic already has one successful mobile game under their belts – they knew that the rush wouldn’t last.

On average, as the blog Localytics notes, 25 percent of mobile users only open an app once. That’s enough to inflate that daily user base, but (especially in the case of a free app) it’s not actually indicative of who is playing the game, and most of them certainly aren’t spending money on it. According to Apptentive, the numbers are even worse, two-thirds of players will abandon the game within 24 hours and that mobile game developers can only expect 500 high-value customers per 1,000,000 installs.

As we follow the progression of the average mobile app, by the end of the first month, it’s only retained 42 percent of its users – those who keep on using the app or playing the game, who return at least once every 30 days. By the end of the first three months, that figure has dropped to only 25 percent.

By comparison, Pokemon GO, which released almost two months ago, has dropped from a peak daily user base of about 45 million to a current daily user base around 30 million. That’s a retention rate – of daily users, it doesn’t even count those who use it less often – around 66 percent. And if we assume that some players only play once every two or three days (or maybe only on the weekend, or date nights, etc.), then it’s probably even higher.

For the record, that’s still twice as many players as the last generation of Pokemon games has sold copies.

It’s also more than twice the number of players as World of Warcraft, the posterchild for online gaming success, ever had at its peak.

Pokemon GO also, according to ThinkGaming, earns almost $2 million every day. It’s still the top-grossing game and has only just started to dip from its former rank as the top free game.

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'Pokemon GO' has also had a number of second-order effects as other businesses and sections of society become involved.
'Pokemon GO' has also had a number of second-order effects as other businesses and sections of society become involved. [Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]

So, let’s recap. Pokemon GO is still ridiculously popular. It has customer retention numbers far above normal for a mobile game entering its third month after release. It’s still earning more money than any other app (and plenty of games on other platforms) according to the statistics we’ve found, and it’s still one of the top mobile games right now. It’s also Nintendo’s best-performing property right now, and possibly their best ever. And while the endgame is truthfully lacking, we’re still only on version 0.35.0 and Niantic has promised plenty more content to come.

All in all, not too shabby for a game that’s supposedly dying.

[Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images]