Unless you’ve been living in a particularly remote cave for the past couple of months then you’ve probably at least heard of the new mobile gaming craze Pokémon Go. The game, which allows players to catch the original set of 150 Pokémon as they appear on a real-world map, has become a bona-fide senstation since its official release in July and quickly became more downloaded than Tinder.
Already, however, the game has begun to rapidly lose players, particularly in the United States where usership has dropped from 40 million to 30 million since July, a fall of 22.7%. The data comes from a Survey Monkey Intelligence report and only takes into account those who play the game at least once a week, meaning those who downloaded it because of the buzz but barely got past selecting a starter Pokémon weren’t included in the survey.
In explaining the fall, critics may point to several significant flaws in the game’s design. The ability to battle other trainers, rather than just gyms, and trade Pokémon between friends is something gamers are desperate for and developers Niantic have confirmed these features will be added in time. However the game has also had issues with numerous bugs, such as the now fixed freezing Pokéball and third party ‘cheat’ apps which tell players the exact locations of nearby Pokémon. Pointless cosmetic changes such as the little tuft of grass that now appears on the list of sighted Pokémon have hardly helped.
However before anyone starts ringing the death-bells for Pokémon Go just yet, it’s crucial to put these figures into perspective. According to digital expert Dave Bolton, the average app actually loses 77% of its users within the first three days, with free-to-play games like Pokémon Go often experiencing the most drastic drop-offs. Therefore, whilst a 20% loss may sound shocking and worrying initially, deeper analysis actually shows Pokémon Go to be in quite healthy shape, especially when compared to other similar apps. Indeed, the fact that the game has only lost 20% of players in the United States is actually quite an impressive feat.
Of course, all fads have their expiry dates and once those mobile data bills start coming in the mail and people begin to fill up their Pokédexes to the point where sighting another Pidgey is enough to make you want to cry, Pokémon Go may begin to experience genuine decline. Until then, I’m off to hatch another 10k egg.