GOing down

Mobile games have been around for about a decade on smartphones. We have seen them grow, expand, going from free to paid, getting better with a skyrocketing improvement in technology and we also have seen them be played and be forgotten.

When Pokémon GO launched no one was prepared to that success, neither Niantic with their server (maybe intentionally to test their capacity), neither The Pokémon Company or users, but everybody could predict it definetely wouldn't flop, and that is a fundamental thought for this article.

Gaining momentum is what defines mobile games success, going to the top as fast as possible to be trending and relevant, and remain there as long as possible. What happens to the vast majority of games is "the mountain", which is defined by three key phase/moments:

  1. Gain popularity
  2. Peak of popularity
  3. Downhill and disappearance

This phase doesn't have a specific duration, but it is clearly outlined. Revenues and relevance are directly connected to the first phase, climaxing to the peak, which the app will never be able to reach again.

Pokémon GO has had a huge success in its first weeks, the number of players have been constantly rising since launch, together with their engagement. That happened despite server issues, unpopular updates and media backlash.

Pokémon GO has had the most successful mobile launch in history
— SuperData Research

In the last couple of weeks the number of players and engagement it's declining, and I am talking about million of players every day. Has Pokémon reached its peak already? What can be seen from the graphs below is that players and engagement is declining in a significant, but not dropping, way.

When it comes to successful apps there is big margin for a comeback, because a community is born. When a big community is playing a game, a cushion becomes available, so that it can resist downhills. What is happening right now in Pokémon GO is the first downhill, but the future of this app is not a mountain, rather a rollercoaster with ups and downs.

Thanks to the supporting community, that if it's big is going to maintain the game relevant, and future updates, like new generations Pokémon, Sun & Moon connectivity, Pokémon GO will go through a lot of peaks in the following years to come.

What is clear is that the first peak cannot be passed, it can be revived, as just said, but the decline in terms of engagement and users playing is everyday nearer and something that has to happen one way or another. Pokémon GO users is lowering because players who are less interested in videogames and Pokémon are going back to their lives without Pokémon GO.

This process happens to videogames in general, where DLC, updates are the fuel to mantain and gain attention. We should not have fear for the future of Pokémon GO, not right now, it has a brilliant future ahead, simply it has passed its first peak.