Reports Of Pokemon GO's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Is Pokemon GO dying?Image: iStock

Pokemon GO is dead. Or dying. Apparently. That's the latest story, after the game's rapid popularity spike began levelling off. The reality: Pokemon GO is still one of the top apps, and the top game (in terms of both revenue and active users). It's most likely going to stay that way for a while. Let's take a look at the statistics.

A handful of charts compiled by Axiom Capital Management were published this week by Bloomberg, showing the decline of the massively popular mobile game.

Image: Axiom Capital Management via Bloomberg
Image: Axiom Capital Management via Bloomberg

The first chart shows a soft spike in users around the end of the second week of Pokemon GO's release, with a sharp decline occurring at the end of July that levels out a little through August. Another chart shows that engagement (daily active users vs monthly active users) has actually dropped fairly steadily since the game's release. As the number of people installing the app increases, this isn't particularly surprising.

What these charts don't show is that most metrics of success are going pretty steadily for Pokemon GO. Despite trending slightly downwards, the number of daily active users is still sitting around the same level as when it first overtook Twitter.

In fact, Pokemon GO has recently overtaken Twitter in some metrics, such as the average number of days used per month, which for Pokemon GO users continues to climb:

Image: Kotaku via SurveyMonkey

What's not surprising is the mania that has surrounded Pokemon GO, especially in Australia and the US, has died down a little. The kind of velocity that led to a tiny park in Rhodes becoming the centre of international media attention, or literal human stampedes through the streets, is not sustainable for any app or game, no matter how big.

But this slowing of Pokemon GO's supposedly unstoppable momentum doesn't mean that the bubble has burst, or that the game is dead. I believe that it's just settling in for the long haul.

Niantic certainly won't be feeling any pressure from this news, either. The game continues to make the highest revenue of any app by a matter of millions, and with recent launches in Asia its microtransaction success is holding steady.

Image: Kotaku via SurveyMonkey

In August, Niantic completed a good chunk of its rollout, most recently bringing it to countries across Asia and Oceania on August 5, leaving the team free to focus on app updates and bug fixes. The end of the international rollout is reflected pretty obviously in the Google Trends for "Pokemon GO":

Image: Kotaku via SurveyMonkey

Interestingly, the top related search terms are all about the game's recent updates, proving that trainers are as keen as ever to continue on.

In fact this news supposedly heralding Pokemon GO's demise comes as the team added its first new feature since the game's release. This update allows you to interact with your team leader for the first time since you chose a side at level 5. They will appraise a certain Pokemon's strengths and weaknesses for you now, as well as offering some cute dialogue on the side.

Many seem to have also forgotten that the release of Pokemon GO Plus is imminent, set for September. Niantic is also continuing to roll out new features, and before they even add a new generation of Pokemon we still have yet to encounter Ditto, or any of Kanto's legendaries: forthcoming discoveries that will lead to a spike in player numbers all over again.

I have to admit, I was falling into the 'no one plays this game anymore' trap myself, after two weeks of being too busy to devote the time to a proper Pokewalk. Yet daily I still see people with the app out on the train around me. I loaded it up again while I was writing this story to check out the new update, and within ten seconds had witnessed the fall of two nearby gyms and a battle going on at another. Lures were still scattered everywhere around my office and — most surprising of all, the game ran smoother than I've ever experienced it before.

So no, Pokemon GO is not dead, or even dying. It's not even close.

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