Pokémon Go quickly became one of the most successful and most popular mobile gaming apps of all time. It finally gave people a reason to get outside and improve their fitness, becoming the number one downloaded app on both Android and iOS and surpassing Twitter in daily active users in the process.
Intentionally or not, Niantic had developed a game with the potential to improve many people’s fitness and mental health. In our previous article on Pokémon Go, we stated that it ‘could well be the health app of the year’… but now we’re not so sure.
Make no mistake, Pokémon Go is still a fantastic app, but we may have been guilty of jumping on the hype and pretending it was something more than it actually was. After weeks of racking up the kilometres and hunting Pokémon, we found we were just going round in circles. Many others seem to have had the same realisation; research from Superfly Insights, which investigates app user behaviour, suggests devoted Pokémon hunters are abandoning the game in droves. According to SurveyMonkey, the number of people downloading the game each day dropped from 6 million to 1 million in a fortnight, which is a pretty large decrease.
Pokémon Go is free to download but has made more than £200 million from in-app purchases. However, in recent weeks, the number of in-app purchases have dramatically fallen, which suggests that people are not playing the app even if it is still on their phone.
So why has Pokémon Go lost its popularity?
There are many reasons Pokémon Go is seeing a decline in popularity. Some people are blaming Niantic, the developers, for not introducing new features to keep players interested or for not fixing the plethora of glitches that make the app run slowly or crash altogether. More features have actually been removed than added, including the all-important tracking system; instead of hunting them down, players found themselves aimlessly walking around hoping to stumble across a rare Pokémon.
Another reason is that people just can’t be bothered anymore. The hype has finally worn off and people are finding ways of playing the game that doesn’t involve them getting active. Apps that spoof GPS locations and 'botting systems' that play the game for you are now being used, rendering the ‘Go’ part of the app obsolete.
This begs the question, will there ever be room on the marketplace for apps that make people get active? If one of the most popular games of all time attempted to create a health app that made people get active in order to play and failed in the process, how can any other app succeed? Lessons will have to be learnt from the apparent failure of Pokémon Go if active health apps are to become prevalent in the marketplace.
Pokémon Go hasn’t gone yet, but it certainly needs reviving.