Pokemon Go…ing forward – What does the future hold for Pokemon Go?

This piece is about the future of Pokemon Go, and not why the game is currently so successful. If you are interested in learning about the quick rise of Pokemon, I recommend you read the recent edition of Brick and Mortar on the subject.

You don’t need me to tell you that Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm. Topping the charts on both Google Play and iTunes, Pokemon Go is the biggest mobile game that we’ve seen in a long time. The game has only been out for about two weeks, but what does the future hold for the game? More Pokemon? Bug fixes? More stable servers? Well, in short, yes, and a whole lot more.

One of the main reasons that Pokemon Go has been so popular as of its release is it’s widespread install base and casual appeal. Most people who own smartphones are very familiar with Pokemon, especially the original 151, and none of the more obscure weird Pokemon we’ve seen in recent years. The game itself is also very social in nature, as it requires players to go out and venture to places that other players are also looking for, which allows for widespread talk and thus word-of-mouth advertising. You’ve got to believe that Pastors and Reverends nationwide are now very familiar with Pokemon, as every church I’ve seen seems to be a Pokestop. That’s the now, so what’s in Pokemon’s future.

Now, bear with me here, but I’m going to assume that Pokemon Go, like Pokemon itself will mostly be a fad, with most of it’s users slowly fading away from the product. Now, that’s not to say that Pokemon itself has completely faded away, but the new Pokemon games, cards and television shows aren’t nearly as popular as the Pokemania that hit in the 1990s. Possible miracles aside, Pokemon Go’s user base will likely start to dwindle a few months from now.

So, I can assume that people playing Pokemon Go now are looking for more content. Perhaps more Pokemon, or more robust battling systems, or the introduction of trading. These additions will likely be brought around when the the game begins to fade in popularity.

Now, where’s the reasoning here? Why not add content now? Well, we can look at the amount of people playing Pokemon Go, and the amount of money that Pokemon Go makes on a similar graph. Because the game is free, the amount of money made from Pokemon Go is not directly related to the amount of people playing the game. In fact, the of the amount of people playing the game, a very small percentage of them are spending any money at all. And of that small percentage of people spending money, some are only spending a few dollars here and there, and the other group are spending lots of money. That section of a small section of the whole user base are the key targets for Niantic and the Pokemon Company.

So, let’s try to illustrate this then. This is what the game looks like early on.


Clearly, everything is looking up at the moment. While it may seem like the amount of people playing is just as important and the amount of money made, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As mentioned previously, once the small percentage of people willing to spend money are hooked, they’re in it for the long run.


Looking at the second graph, we can see that the amount of people playing the game has slightly decreased, but the amount of money being made has remained stagnant. Once in this phase, the developers will pretty much ride it out until the amount of money being made starts to go down. Again, the decrease in players isn’t concerning, as the majority of players losing interest are those who aren’t willing to spend any money on the game.


Looking at the third graph, we can see that while the amount of players has begun to take a significant dive, the amount of money has taken a smaller dip. Once the amount of people willing to spend money on the game starts going down, that’s when it’s time to get the new content out there. Give the people that are still willing to keep spending money more and more reason to. This is when more content for the game will start to roll out.


Perhaps at this point we can assume Pokemon from Kanto were added. Most people would assume that this would result in a massive return in players, and thus a massive upturn in funds being pulled in by the game. While the numbers seem to line up, this isn’t true at all. Sure, more people are playing the game, but a very small amount of people are going to be roped in by more content. Once people are done with the game, they’re done with it. It’s very unlikely that they’ll become fully invested in the game again and start going all out with it. The money is coming from that small percentage of people who are still into the game, and who are still willing to spend a ton of money on it. When the amount of Pokemon in the game doubles, the few hundred people who spend a large amount of money on the game are going to need to spend an even larger sum of money to keep up to pace with what they were previously used to.

While Pokemon Go seems like a very short-sighted fad of a game, money will still be made once the fad dies off. The small percentage of people still willing to spend money on the game will continue to do so, and will spend even more money as more content is rolled out.

To close, I’d just like to note that all numbers and figures are purely estimations and are incredibly simplified. Estimations are based upon trends from other mobile games, more specifically other “Pay to Win” games. This piece is purely speculation, and should be treated as such.