The Future of Pokemon Go: Will It Survive Past Winter?

By | July 13, 2016

Pokemon Go has been wildly successful in it’s first week. The app is estimated to have generated $1.6 Million in revenue per day, with an estimated 7.5 million downloads, according to the analytics company Sensor Tower. The success of the game even resulted in Nintendo’s stock price increasing by 30% over a 5 day period.

From what we’ve seen in the past, mobile games often become fads, lasting less than a year before people stop talking about them. Pokemon Go is quite different, because it is a social MMO based on geographic location. Social online games rely very heavily on maintaining a large userbase, and for a geolocation based game like Pokemon Go, it becomes even more necessary, as a significant element of the game’s appeal is encountering other players in the real world.

Online games can remain relevant and popular if the developers do an excellent job of adding new content and features, while maintaining the original vision of the game. Games such as Everquest have lasted almost 20 years, so it’s certainly possible. Considering the success of Pokemon Go, it’s very likely that the developers will continue to update the game to keep it exciting and fresh, while addressing common player concerns.

When winter hits, Pokemon Go’s playerbase will most likely see a decline in regions with harsh winters. Not only will below-freezing temperatures reduce the appeal of walking outside for the sake of playing the game, but snow covering much of the ground and sidewalks will also make it more difficult to explore parks and other areas with Pokestops and Gyms. With that said, there will still be some people playing, as we’ve seen plenty of viral videos of people playing the game in storms during the middle of the night. What we don’t know is how many players will continue playing, and how much.

With the active playerbase of Pokemon Go likely to decline during the worst parts of winter, it raises the question of if it’s popularity will surge back in the Spring. Many users are likely to have partially forgotten about the app, and not think to open it up again unless a friend reminds them. With a reduced population, the game could lose some of it’s appeal. One of the coolest elements of Pokemon Go is coming across other trainers in real life. If you’re the only one playing in your town, it isn’t nearly as fun.

The ideal way to make it through winter would be to release a large update in early spring 2017 as the weather begins to improve, and then start a large advertising campaign to showcase many of the new features, in order to get players back into the game. On top of an advertising campaign, it would also help to implement a form of daily rewards event similar to those seen in other online games. Getting players back into the game will be crucial, and temporary events can play a large role in accomplishing this.

Overall, Pokemon Go has enormous potential. It’s managed to become the most popular geolocation-based MMO ever created, creating new friendships, bringing people together, and promoting physical activity. It will be interesting to see if the game fades away over time, or if it will grow on to become even greater.