The plan in 2020 was to make it the best year that no other ever was, but as you know, 2020 hasn’t quite played out like many of us had hoped. Thankfully, there is one game with wonderfully nostalgic properties that has tempered my quarantine stir-craziness.
For myself and many others around the world, Pokemon GO has been a saving grace during these unprecedented times. Having downloaded Niantic’s golden goose when it launched in 2016, I lost touch with it after just a few months. As a day one Pokemon fan, it pains me to even admit such a thing. But in April, as I looked for ways to diversify my outdoor activities, I downloaded the location-based app once more. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in months.
What a blast it has been. Sometimes almost too much.
In the trailblazing app, we find solace in a vast Pokedex and endless Pokestops waiting to be spun. We honorably represent our teams in gym takeovers, raid at a level even Indiana Jones would be proud of, and trade more than the New York Stock Exchange. But most importantly, we have the option of doing it from home or continuing to head outside on the two-foot express.
Pokemon GO, at its core, is best experienced by walking outdoors and interacting with various landmarks and fellow trainers, but when the pandemic began, we were discouraged from leaving our homes. In heroic fashion, Niantic — the San Francisco-based developer of Pokemon GO — altered the game’s functionality to accommodate players during lockdowns and times of social distancing.
Over the course of the pandemic, users have benefitted from things like enhanced spawning rates, expanded vicinities for gyms and stops, remote raids and the inclusion of our favorite crime syndicate: Team Rocket. Niantic was even able to pull off a global Pokemon GO Fest that allowed users to participate from a location of their choosing.
The implementation of gameplay upgrades and remote events attributes to the San Francisco-based developer’s success in 2020. And the numbers back it up.
According to Sensor Tower, in 2020 alone — and we aren’t done yet — Niantic hit a new earning landmark with user spending surpassing $1 billion in 10 months. This is an 11% increase from all of 2019 – their previous best calendar year. Pokemon GO also comes in as the No. 3 ranked mobile gaming app, which is measured by the number of downloads and user spending.
When it comes to downloads, the U.S. stands alone at the top. Of the 600 million-plus unique downloads, the U.S. has accumulated 109 million installs, or 18.2%, of the global total.
To make a long story short, Pokemon GO’s survival is flat-out miraculous and should be a shining example of how to succeed when the odds are stacked against you. They managed to have their most lucrative year during a quarantine by creating engaging events, funneling in new content daily, monitoring user feedback and making it a safe space. Think about it: not even a global pandemic could stop the power of Pokemon.
For users, it’s offered a way to disconnect with the uncertainties of everyday life. It still allows the freedom to be outside, getting in our steps to hatch 12km eggs and catching legendaries from all generations. We get to do this all while practicing social distancing with our fellow trainers. In the end, Pokemon GO has provided us an extra dose of happiness during a year when we could all use a little bit more of it.
Thanks, Niantic. You the real MVP.