Why Pokemon Go is a game changer for marketers

19th August 2016

Pokemon Go has proved to be a global phenomenon. The games mass appeal, in augmented reality form represents a seismic opportunity for brands and marketers. The application of augmented reality within the game is likely to create a new blueprint for the way in which consumers interact with brands and businesses via their mobile devices, so it’s important to understand the impact this is likely to have on your marketing efforts as a company. Today we’re exploring why augmented reality and Pokemon Go represent a game changer for businesses and brands.

You’ve probably already seen crowds of people where you live, huddled around their smartphones trying to locate the rarest types of Pokemon. The chances are, you might be already playing the game yourself and understand the impact it’s likely to have in the future when it comes to marketing and brand engagement.

Pokemon Go Revenue & Download Stats

Before we get into the guts of the article, let’s take a look at some of the (genuinely astonishing) stats. Please note that some of these stats come directly from Nintendo and some come from unofficial sources such as third party blogs. Pokemon Go was launched on July 6th 2016. In the USA alone, the game has 20 million daily active users. Globally speaking, as of 1st August 2016, the game had been downloaded a whopping 100 million times (Nintendo). It’s estimated now that more than 10% of ALL Google Android users have installed the game on a mobile device, with nearly 6% of all Android users playing the game on a regular, daily basis. Of the 100 million downloads, the average user spends approximately 26 minutes per day using the app (this is larger than Facebook (22 mins), Snapchat (18 mins), Twitter (17 mins & 56 seconds) and Instagram – 15 mins). As of the 8th August, Pokemon Go had generated over $200 million through in-app-purchases (IAP’s). On its first day of launch, the game successfully accrued nearly $5 million in IAP’s (The average revenue per users, or ARPU, on a daily basis is $0.25). That means, based on the stats 20 days after launch, that Pokemon Go is actually generating somewhere in the region of $10 million per day. Not bad for a game that involves chasing fictitious, virtual monsters.

But the stats continue (if you’re only interested in what this means for your business, scroll to the bottom). If you’re interested in capturing only the rarest of Pokemon, the ones to go for are called Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, Ditto, Mew and Mewto. In terms of the demographics, 78% of all Pokemon Go players are between the ages of 18 and 34 and it’s estimated that the largest demographic is for male players between the ages of 21 and 27. The fact is, and this is a great stat for the Pokemon Go cynics, the game now holds the record for more first week downloads from the Apple App Store, than any other app or game in history. It took Pokemon Go 19 days to surpass the 50 million download total, and albeit slight in terms of depth, the augmented reality element of the game has helped to facilitate these ludicrous numbers.

All in all, the game took less than 13 hours to become the highest grossing app on the global App Store and within 5 days of launch, it added more than $9 billion to Nintendo’s share price. In order to understand the true level of fanaticism associated with the launch of the game, consider the fact that nearly 200,000 Spotify playlists have subsequently been created with a Pokemon Go theme. In terms of the games overall global reach, Niantic (the games Silicon Valley based developer) has made the game available in 30 different countries, with the company’s goal to deploy the game across a total of more than 200 countries.

How much does it cost to develop a game or app like Pokemon Go?

If you’re a business or brand thinking of developing an app and toying with the idea of using an augmented reality based feature set, you’re probably wondering how much the development is likely to cost. The fact is, developing great augmented reality apps (and apps/games in general) is a seriously time consuming and difficult process that comes at significant cost. But when it comes to success in mobile, it’s really a question of value rather than cost. Whilst the development costs for Pokemon Go might appear to be high, the numbers post launch speak for themselves in terms of revenue generation and brand engagement.

But the cost of development is not just about expenditure prior to launch. The developers will now be re-investing significant amounts of revenue into optimising the game based on real-world user feedback. Since the game launched, the developers have made constant refinements to the game in order to create a better product and experience for the end user. If you’re considering developing an AR app, it’s well worth considering how much you’ll need to invest in managing and optimising the project post-launch.

It’s estimated that Nintendo and Google invested a combined $30 million into development, so if you’re looking to replicate the games success you’ll need to have fairly deep pockets. That said, when you look at the revenue statistics, it’s easy to understand why Google and Nintendo invested so heavily in the game, with the help of an existing and loyal fanbase to tap into upon launch.

How much money do Apple make from Pokemon Go IAP’s?

But it’s not just Nintendo, Niantic and Google that benefit financially from the launch of Pokemon Go. It’s expected that within a two year time window Apple will have made over $2 billion through IAP’s within the game. The game has proved to be so successful on iOS devices, it’s estimated that over 80% of all IAP’s come directly from Apple. This to an extent highlights Apple’s dominance in mobile when it comes to monetisation and revenue generation, when compared with Google Android and other platforms. In Android’s defence, it’s estimated that Pokemon Go’s daily usage is twice as much as the Facebook app across the whole of the Android platform. This is something that should give Facebook cause to sit up and take action when it comes to augmented reality and VR, but we already know that Mark Zuckerberg has big plans involving both of these technologies. Watch this space for more details on that.

What does Pokemon Go mean for business and brands?

If you’re interested in marketing, Pokemon Go represents a game changer. Take McDonald’s for example. Since the launch of the game, there are now more than 3000 McDonald’s restaurants in Japan that have turned into Pokemon Go gyms. This doesn’t just represent a quantum leap for augmented reality in terms of mainstream adoption. The launch of Pokemon Go has been so successful, it’s unlike anything we’ve witnessed before in terms of rapid mainstream adoption and spending. In the entire history of technology, there has never been an app or game to exceed 100 million downloads in less than 6 days. The previous record holder was Candy Crush and that game took over one year and three months to reach the same download number.

In some ways it’s actually unfair to call Pokemon Go an augmented reality app. Within the game itself, the augmented reality feature is not the core component in terms of gameplay and user experience. The vast majority of time spent inside the game is through the non-augmented reality app perspective. You only activate the AR features when you find (and attempt) to capture a Pokemon to add to your collection. Having said that, the AR aspect of the game definitely makes it more engaging. As you attempt to capture each Pokemon, the game cleverly overlays images of the monster itself and other UI elements on top of your real-world environment. Whilst being a minimal element of the game, the AR aspect is important and helps users to feel more immersed in the game.

Augmented reality app development has already been adopted across multiple industry sectors. The car industry is a good example of a sector in which AR is being put to good use. Audi and Ford are now enabling prospective car buyers to preview new cars using state of the art AR technology. Within retail, House of Fraser are enabling customers to use VR apps that help them to scan shoppable windows to buy new products. The difference with Pokemon Go, is that the game has finally tipped AR app development into the mainstream and pretty soon brands will be lining up in order to capitalise on the opportunity. Critics of AR have often suggested that the technology could never become successful without the mass proliferation of VR headsets and other wearable devices such as Google Glass. What Nintendo and Niantic have managed to do is prove this theory wrong by targeting the billions of people globally who now use smartphones and tablets everyday as their main vehicle for media consumption and spending.

What Pokemon Go means for marketers

Blippar develop software that enables brands to create powerful augmented reality experiences. The company estimate that the number of apps using its API suite have grown by 300% since the launch of Pokemon Go. As marketers wake up to the Pokemon Go hype, increasingly they’re looking at augmented reality app development as a means of innovation. Mitra are a company that enables businesses and brands to capitalise on the Pokemon phenomenon by generating revenue through business enabled Pokestops. This means that if you’re a business owner, perhaps a retailer, seeking to generate more footfall and sales, you can now pay Niantic to turn your premises into a Pokestop. This encourages consumers to visit your outlet and consume your products and services whilst playing the game. Mitra made $50 million via Pokestop ad revenue within seven days of the game being launched. This figure is expected to rise assuming Niantic can establish a way to scale the model. Right now, Niantic make their money by selling sponsored locations to brands and advertisers, but they’re also exploring a ‘cost-per-visit’ model which could generate more ad revenue.

This is a game changer for brands and marketers seeking to capitalise on the AR phenomenon in that it’s an entirely new way to drive consumers towards specific premises. It’s particularly useful for retailers as their is room to have in-game point systems that can be exchanged for rewards in the real world. If marketers can find a way to inject push notifications and coupons via a game like Pokemon Go, the opportunities for marketers become seemingly endless. With more than two thirds of game players in the 18 to 24 millennial bracket, it acts as a fantastic opportunity to market to a demographic that are rejecting direct marketing and traditional forms of advertising.


The stats associated with Pokemon Go have been genuinely astonishing, not just in terms of player and brand engagement, but also in terms of monetisation. The game has smashed previous records set by the likes of Candy Crush and quickly become the most popular mobile app of its kind in the world and the augmented reality aspect of the game has played a huge part in this. This means that if you’re a brand manager or business seeking to harness the potential of augmented reality, understanding the success of Pokemon Go can help you to become more successful. If you’re a business owner looking to replicate this type of success by developing an augmented reality app, contact Waracle today to start the conversation.

Upcoming AR Event in London

Why your business cant overlook Augmented Reality” event on June 12th, 6pm @ Scotland House for London Tech Week

Waracle are THRILLED to host our latest meet-up, during London Tech Week, covering why your business can’t overlook Augmented Reality (AR). Register now and book your place at what promises to be a hugely insightful and energetic exploration of some industry leading examples of AR in the enterprise.

We have some truly FANTASTIC speakers for your consideration. Joining us on the night will be Return to Scene Ltd (part of the James Fisher Group) Technical Director, Martin MacRae to share his experiences with AR and to explore how the technology has benefited R2S business operations, software delivery and the oil and gas sector.

We will also have a very special guest joining us from The Clydesdale & Yorkshire Banking Group: Technology Consultant, Innovation and New Ways of Working specialist Mr Ed Byrne. Ed will be joining us on the night to talk us through his experience deploying the award winning fintech app ‘B Currency’, which makes it easy for travellers to convert currency in real-time using cutting edge AR technology.

From ARKit to ARCore, HoloLens and SO MUCH MORE – you can be sure to get an in-depth overview of how AR is already impacting a range of industry verticals, from fintech and pharma, to oil and gas and how it can be part of your digital strategy.

We’ll kick off with refreshments and then get right down to business. So, what are you waiting for? Spaces are limited and you don’t want to miss out.

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