The mobile game became an overnight cultural phenomenon when it was released back in 2016, drawing in millions of current and lapsed fans alike to experience an all-new kind of Pokémon adventure. Boasting augmented reality features with an emphasis on physical activeness, developer Niantic found itself overwhelmed with soaring player numbers. Unable to roll out new, frequently demanded features due to combating rampant cheating and stability issues, initial success tapered off, leaving behind a core – much smaller – loyal player base.
Three years later, having had more than enough time to get its bearings in the mobile market, Niantic has since released a number of major gameplay updates. The last 12 months alone marked the introduction of Team Rocket, Gen V Pokémon and a plethora of limited-time events, all of which have contributed to Pokémon Go securing its most successful year yet.
As recorded by analyst website Sensor Tower (above graph), 2019 saw in-game player spending reach an eye-watering total of nearly $900 million, a 10% increase over 2018. An impressive achievement in itself, but even more so when looking even further back. Despite being bolstered by the initial release hype, Pokémon Go generated ‘only’ $832 million in 2016, making 2019 the current leader. Not bad for a game previously considered by many to be on its last legs.
The real question now, of course, is whether Niantic can replicate or even surpass that success in 2020. It’s far too soon to tell, of course, but with even more game-changing additions already confirmed to be on their way, we wouldn’t be surprised to see 2020’s total top the $1 billion mark. Only time will tell.
Pokémon Go is available as a free download for iOS and Android devices.