Pokemon GO Isn’t Dying, Not Even Close

Pokemon GO Isn’t Dying, Not Even Close

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.

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

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.


  • I check in to Pokémon Go once or twice a day on my brief walks to and from the station so yeah, my engagement has reduced, partially because I’ve been too bust to go for lunchtime walks. But if “no one” was playing it the Centrepoint tower gym wouldn’t constantly be under attack. There wouldn’t be a different team occupying my local train station every morning and afternoon.

    Numbers dropping after the initial spike was completely expected.

  • I stopped playing, hence it is definitely dead”.. Gamer’s are a funny lot :S

    People have been saying that about WoW, DOTA, LoL, insert game here… forever as well, like the millions of still active players somehow don’t matter anymore just because they themselves stopped playing.

  • Oh god, IVs.

    I can’t wrap my head around powering up. What if I have a ~900 level Pokemon with perfect or perfect stats? Aren’t I supposed to power that one up? Or do I just leave it? I’ve been looking and still am, but while the IV-fu in this game is easy enough to understand, it’s what comes next that confuses me.

    It’s tedious and frustrating to throw 25-50 balls at a Pokemon that’s strong enough to withstand 25-50 balls, I feel like I’m being punished for being at a Level 20/higher level. To say nothing about when it finally runs away.

    • Personally I’m still hoarding stardust, level 25 and have 278k dust. Waiting till I get to level 30 or close to it as wild pokemon cap out their level at 30, meaning from then on you have to power them up. Once I start getting level 30ish pokemon with high/perfect IVs I’ll use my stardust to power them up. Doing anything before then seems ponitless to me as I just keep catching stronger pokemon anyway.

      As for throwing 25-50 balls to catch something…think my worst ever was around 15 and that’s because I missed half my shots. I don’t count every throw but I’d be surprised if it’s taken more than 8-10 hits with a ball before a pokemon flees or gets captured. Typically its in the order of 1-3 balls, for me at least.

      • In my experience if I haven’t caught it in 3 balls (that connected, not counting misses or deflections), it flees.

        • I’m screaming at the bloody things, telling them to f…….lee if it takes me more than five and it’s a high level one.

          • I have found that to ease frustration in this instance, it seems you have a greater chance of actual catching a bigger Pokemon when you mis the target on purpose. This could be all in my head of course but more often I find I can just catch them in one go if I mis a few times. The game feels sorry for you and lets you have it? haha. Like I said, might be in my head. Tinfoil hat goes back on.

      • I’ve generally thought about doing the same thing, but it’s really dangerous for people around the low-mid 20s mark. I don’t know if I have it in me to persist, any my general experiments with stardust has kinda landed me with some pokemon I don’t want to part with now. They are close to perfect, or actually perfect, but nothing that’s going to actually hold its own in a gym battle.

        My 65K stardust reserves are just sitting there, and I kinda want to use them NOW.

    • IVs vs CP… that’s all up to you.

      As for catching pokemon – you get a catch bonus for:
      A) Using better balls
      B) Using razz berrys
      C) Using curveballs
      D) Getting nice/great/excellent (which offer increasing bonuses the better your throw)

      All of these stack. So if you *really* want to catch a pokemon, using a razz berry, ultra ball, and throw a curve ball and go for a great. Mainly because getting excellent is damn near impossible as the circle has to be pretty much minimum size and you have to hit it dead centre. Sure, it doesn’t guarantee the pokemon will stick, but it increases your chances significantly.

      • These are moot points of 20-30XP when it costs 100’s of 1000’s of XP to level…. you could say it all helps but then i could say well use a lucky egg… eg: pay to win gg

        • Except the original comment wasn’t about XP and levelling, it was about the difficulty of catching pokemon. Also, if a large amount of your XP comes from catching pokemon, then getting 120-160 xp per pokemon caught instead of 100 is a 20-60% XP increase.

          Higher levels in an levelling system require more XP. News at 11. Seriously, if you’re expecting to level from 20-30 as quickly as you did 10-20, then:
          a) You must not play games very much.
          b) You’re blaming slow levelling for the realisation that the gameplay has never really had much depth and now you don’t have the drip-feed button providing as much reward.

          It’s not really pay to win, because the difference in power for pokemon from 20-30 tails off considerably compared to 10-20 (and you’ll hit 30 anyway if you keep catching/evolving pidgeys/weedle/caterpie), and the limiting factor in levelling up pokemon becomes candy, at which point your only really recourse is to catch more pokemon or attempt to get 10 gyms every day. You don’t get a huge advantage from having more coins.

  • Anyone still playing could have told you this without needing metrics.

    The only people who listen to the news are people who don’t play and have no clue what is going on.

  • I’ve wound back the time I spend playing, but I still play. Who else is going to put Magikarps on my local gyms?

  • It’s dead? No, it’s nowhere near dead, it’s just that the media have lost interest in reporting on it.

  • it’s becoming dead to people in the 20+ lvl range. Taking multiple Pokeballs to catch a 15CP pidgey is NOT OK. high level CP/IV pokemon aren’t going to appear past a certain level so why bother leveling anymore? GYM battles are a joke! IF there is a single pokemon in a gym (ie after you take said gym) ANY pokemon of ANY CP/IV can be beaten by a golbat army. and the few coins you get from owning a gym is insulting. It’s not dying BUT it has died off as people start to wake the fuck up to this shit.

  • Games always end up having a bit of a drop off after the hype has passed, but this doesn’t mean that a game is dead. I still play daily, it’s great to be able to hit all the Pokestops and catch the different Pokemon that are available on my morning and afternoon commute. I also see a lot of lures and like other said the rise and fall of local gyms. So yes, people are still playing and will continue to play. This is by far the only mobile game that I’ve really enjoyed.

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