If you look at social media and see all of the posts about people looking back to "the Pokémon GO summer" with nostalgia, referencing the cultural phenomenon of the game's 2016 debut, you would think that the game has seen better days. However, those who play the game and are involved in its community know better. While casual gameplay has died down somewhat, the hardcore fanbase of Pokémon, the biggest media franchise in the world, has kept playing Niantic's mobile game. In fact, 2020 has been Pokémon GO's biggest year so far, and the game continues to grow.
Sensor Tower, which offers "insight into the global app economy," released a study comparing the revenue that Pokémon GO has drawn in since its 2016 launch. Those who think the popularity of the game has dwindled will be surprised to see the numbers. Here's what was reported on Niantic's revenue for Pokémon GO:
- 2016: $832 Million
- 2017: $589 Million (a 29% dip)
- 2018: $828 Million (41% growth)
- 2019: $902 Million (9% growth)
- 2020: 1 Billion (11% growth)
Pokémon GO, currently ranked as the third most popular mobile game, pulled in 1 Billion dollars for the first time in the game's history in 2020, making the year its biggest of all time. This year was defined by growth for the game, with Niantic introducing multiple new features that likely contributed to this success. These new features included:
- Buddy Adventure, which was monetized for the first time with the addition of Poffins
- Remote Raiding and Remote Raid Invites, which surely contributed to the overall dollars earned in a huge way
- GO Battle League, which saw Premium Raid Passes turn into Premium Battle Passes that could be used to get better rewards in the Premium Track of this PVP mechanic
- Mega Evolution, which led players to focus on raiding in order to unlock Mega Dex entries and obtain powerful, temporary evolutions in Pokémon GO
With Pokémon GO performing better than ever than Niantic as the game adapted to lockdown, it will be interesting to see the mobile developer work on keeping gameplay focused on promoting physical activity with their new play-at-home usability.