Pokémon Go came into the gaming world with a bang, capitalizing on a combination of 1990s nostalgia and burgeoning augmented reality technology to earn Niantic, the gaming platform the app uses, record-shattering performance and download numbers.
Data from Sensor Tower, an app store optimization platform, estimates that Pokémon Go has been installed 75 million times across Apple iOS and Google Android platforms. Although industry watchers are already questioning how long such explosive success can be sustained, nothing detracts from the unprecedented launch numbers that Pokémon Go has now posted.
Compared to other popular game applications, Pokémon Go is exhibiting a phenomenal performance. It took only 19 days after its release for the game to surpass 50 million downloads, while the next highest performing games, Color Switch and Slither.io, took 77 and 81 days respectively to reach the same level. And Sensor Tower data predicts that the app may hit 100 million downloads within the first two months.
These numbers come despite the fact that the game is only currently available in 32 of the 100 markets in which the Apps Store and Google Play distribute their content. The game only launched in its homeland Japan, where Nintendo designed the original Pokémon for the Game Boy in 1995, in late July.
According to data by Survey Monkey, the game still sits at the top of the charts, and is the top grossing app, in every country where the game is available. Still the numbers are falling, because even with the probable addition of new markets in the foreseeable future, it is difficult to see how Pokémon Go could sustain such exponential success.
A dip in the number of new users following the initial post-release craze is normal and in all likelihood does not spell the end of Pokémon Go. Most games enjoy a heyday period before sliding down to meet more sustainable numbers.
"As we've seen from other games there's still every chance that the game attracts millions of users (and makes millions of dollars) for months, and even years to come," Survey Monkey wrote in its analysis.
Part of the appeal of Pokémon Go is that it encourages being social and requires its users to get off the couch and explore their neighborhoods and towns in order to play – canceling out some of the biggest complaints about video games: that they promote a sedentary and solitary lifestyle.
But this may not be a fully sustainable model either.
"While that’s part of what makes the game novel and appealing at the moment, it's easy to see how the charm might wear off over time," says James Surowiecki in a column for The New Yorker. "Pokémon Go is also the rare video game whose economic success will be determined in part by the weather. It's a great summertime game, but will anyone bundle up to go Pikachu-hunting when winter rolls around?"
In order to retain its captive audience, Niantic, creator of the real world gaming platform on which the app is based, has promised a number of changes in future updates, including new Pokémons, customizable Pokéstops, and expanded Gym and breeding features.