July of 2016 already seems like ages ago. The sun was shining, the Chicago Cubs had an empty trophy case, and everyone was walking around looking at their phones. OK, everyone still does that, just not to catch Pokémon anymore.
The ultra popular app Pokémon Go had swept the nation, and absolutely everybody was into it. Everyone from fast food restaurants to churches were trying to get in on the action with promotions and signs. And, considering they earned $200 million in its first month alone, I’d say the game was quite a success.
However, a few months down the line, the popularity has faded. In September, the app had already lost 80% of their paying players. In other words, people that (unlike me) were willing to open their wallet for a few Pokeballs.
And, really, it’s not that shocking that the game’s mainstream popularity came and went so quickly. You see, for a mobile game such as Pokémon Go, you need to cater to the casual audience. And that means you need to offer more than just some nostalgic creatures to catch. You have to keep up on the game to make it consistently feel fresh.
While Niantic, the developers of the game, knew how to bring the worlds of Pokémon and real life together, they didn’t bank on the short attention spans associated with mobile devices. There’s a million things you can be doing on your phone, and once something becomes stale, you forget about it and move on.
To be totally honest, I could tell this was going to happen from the start. (Time to pat myself in the back!) I’m a huge fan of the Pokémon games from the Game Boy days onward, but found the Pokémon Go experience to be pretty one-note. I kind of enjoyed the hunt for Pokémon, but found the experience to get repetitive as time went on. And the gym battling, which had the potential to be a great addition to the experience, only proved to be a bit frustrating and (considering I never defeated a single gym) difficult.
And the developers are clearly capable of updating the experience. Just last month, their special Halloween promotion yielded massive results, jumping profits by 133%.
Clearly, the people at Niantic know how to create a fun experience with both their original game Ingress and Pokémon Go. However, they need to build upon that and continue to grow. At the time this article is published, they’re looking to release a new generation of monsters into the game with a 2017 update. However, will this be enough to get people outside and walking into ponds again? Only time will tell.
Featured image from Flickr user iphonedigital