Opinion: Pokémon Go is not dying or damaging augmented reality

Opinion: Pokémon Go is not dying or damaging augmented reality

Online news outlets have been reporting the number of active Pokémon Go players is on the decline, and frankly the numbers speak for themselves; the game isn’t as popular as it was at its peak.

Research done by Axiom Capital Management was used by Barron’s in a story titled ‘Facebook: Relax, They’re Getting Tired of Pokemon Go, Says Axiom’, while Smarter Analyst went with the subhead ‘Facebook’s threat Pokemon Go is starting to diminish in trends, says Axiom’.

Why Facebook? Because Pokémon Go overtook Facebook in terms of daily use some time back. Is it an apt comparison? When talking about overall app usage sure, but not when talking about the viability of a game and its user base.

Why not compare it to Clash Royale which was released a few months before Pokémon Go? I guess the headline ‘Pokémon Go user base in decline but still highly profitable, has better retention than competing games’ isn’t quite as punchy.

After all, if Spotify started losing users would you compare it to Apple Music or Netflix?

An article on Bloomberg examined the steady decline of the user base of Pokémon Go, and features a quote from a Senior Analyst at Axiom Capital Management saying “this would cast aspersion not only on the viability and popularity of Pokemon Go, but augmented reality gaming at large…”.




The idea that its decline could damage “augmented reality gaming at large” is incredibly over the top, but is one that may gain some traction in a vicious news cycle that craves clicks. I have no issue with the facts being reported. And the facts speak for themselves – Pokémon Go is not as popular as it once was. But it also had quite literally the most successful app launch in history, so it’s decline was inevitable.

This is a game about catching little monsters and incubating eggs and it made $200 million after being installed 100 million times in its first month. Now it’s being labeled as a dying game that could damage the viability of future augmented reality titles? Somebody better tell Microsoft to cancel the HoloLens.

In all seriousness, I’ll be the first person to put my hand up and criticize Pokémon Go for a lot of reasons. It’s far from perfect and frankly Niantic have been a pretty negligent developer who have failed repeatedly at engaging with their audience. But to label Pokémon Go as a game that could damage augmented reality is outrageous.

The mobile gaming market is fickle, that’s a fact. Right now Pokémon Go is number 10 on the free apps list on the US Apple App Store. Flip Diving, the only other game in the top 10, is at number 2. But Pokémon Go is still number 1 in the Top Grossing charts, above Spotify, Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, the list goes on.

Regardless of what you think about the actual game of Pokémon Go, and believe me I have my issues with it, nobody can deny it set a new bar by which other major releases will be judged. It gave the masses their first glimpse of what augmented reality gaming could be, showed the power of intelligent branding, and perhaps most importantly how video games can bring people together like no other medium.

So yes, Pokémon Go is on the decline. And that’s okay, it’s a natural part of the cycle. And reporting on it is fine too, I mean I’ve done it, it’s news and it’s worth knowing if you’re a fan. But the rush to declare its death or its potential to damage augmented reality, which is still fledgling piece of technology, is ridiculous.

Pokémon Go is alive and well. But man, they better implement trading soon.

This article is an opinion piece and should be taken as editorial comment.