Pokémon Go: A puzzling surge in popularity

You may think that Pokémon Go was a flash-in-the-pan craze that won the mainstream imagination for two whole weeks in 2016 before vanishing into obscurity, but you’d be wrong.

According to a recent report from VG247Pokémon Go grossed a non-shabby $84.8 million in September 2018 – its highest takings for the year so far. September was also the highest month for installs, with the title being downloaded 8.86 million times worldwide, and it also came in fourth place across all app stores in terms of how much revenue it took. All of this is on top of Pokémon Go‘s already high success rate, with the game having taken $2.01 billion to date with 522 million downloads.

Just to put these latest numbers into context, September’s download total shows a 100 per cent increase year-over-year, and an 89 per cent increase in revenue. So as well as being high, these figures also indicate an upward trajectory in interest, which – whilst a tiny bit puzzling – is great news for the franchise.


So why the sudden surge? Well, it could be that the Pokémon train is starting to gather momentum with the imminent launch of Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! / Eevee!, and perhaps trainers are keen to get their Pokéball techniques mastered before they embark on the latest Switch epic.

It’s also true that the developer Niantic has been diligent in keeping the app up to date. It recently announced an upcoming Generation 4 update to the game, meaning that Pokémon from the Sinnoh regions will soon be landing – that is, Pokémon from the Diamond and Pearl iterations of the main franchise. And this is not a slender offering; 107 new creatures will soon be catchable in the wild, so there’s every chance that September’s impressive figure could soon be bested.

Let’s not forget that last month also saw the arrival of a mysterious new Pokémon called Meltan, which Nintendo hinted will have some connection to the upcoming Let’s Go titles in November. So there are lots of reasons for people to be drawn back to their smartphones in 2018, even if the game isn’t the ubiquitous sensation that it was a couple of years ago. Heck, I knew plenty of non-gamers who were sucked into the craze.

Are you still playing Pokémon Go? Have you avoided it thus far but now find yourself tempted? And will you be playing the Let’s Go games when they launch on the Switch? Let me know in the comments below.

  • Click here to pre-order Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! 
  • Click here to pre-order Let’s Go, Eevee!

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