Lessons from the Pokestop: What developers can learn from Pokemon Go's success

The Pokémon Go revolution is underway, and the mobile gaming phenomenon continues to generate interest from casual and hardcore gamers alike. 

But what does Pokémon Go mean for mobile developers? Let's take a closer look at some of the key questions surrounding this mobile title and how the app could impact developers moving forward.

What is Pokémon Go?

Released July 5, Pokémon Go is a mobile game available for iOS and Android devices. It was developed by Niantic and enables mobile users to capture virtual Pokémon creatures using their mobile devices. 

A Pokémon Go user can catch Pokémon creatures by virtually launching red and white "Poké Balls" at them. Thus, Pokémon Go delivers an augmented reality (AR) experience, encouraging smartphone and tablet owners to explore the world around them and capture Pokémon creatures wherever they go. 

How have mobile device users responded to Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go has been a massive success, as millions of mobile device users across the globe have already embraced the app. 

BGR pointed out Pokémon Go hit a 10.81 percent daily user penetration level four days after its U.S. debut. And some mobile gaming experts have estimated the app has topped a $2 million a day revenue generation rate in the U.S. market.

Other stats that illustrate Pokémon Go's popularity in the United States include:

  • Pokémon Go has already eclipsed many social media apps in terms of average usage time. 

  • Pokémon Go is estimated to be on 5 percent of smartphones. Comparatively, the Tinder location-based dating app is only on 2 percent of smartphones.

  • Pokémon Go took only 13 hours to top the app sales charts in the U.S.

  • To date, Pokémon Go has been downloaded at least 7.5 million times in the U.S. 

Also, Pokémon Go may surpass Twitter in terms of total users if it continues on its current trajectory. 

Credit: SimilarWeb

How do mobile developers feel about Pokémon Go?

Jordan Edelson, CEO of mobile app development company Appetizer Mobile, noted Pokémon Go shows the value of building a successful brand and connecting with a loyal fanbase. 

The original Pokémon games
came out in 1996

"The Pokémon phenomenon began about 20 years ago, and when it hit the scene, it targeted young kids who have now grown up and have spending power," he told FierceDeveloper. "Timing is everything, and right now, it is the right time and place for a Pokémon return."

In addition, Alena Busko, marketing director at mobile game development company zGames, pointed out Pokémon Go encourages mobile device users to stay active as part of a one-of-a-kind AR experience. The use of AR promotes exercise and activity, and as such, has helped Pokémon Go garner interest from gamers of all ages. 

"The best thing about Pokemon Go is that it really takes you to the street! Couch potatoes are simply forced to leave their sweet homes to immerse in the adventures," Busko said. "It appears the game is so unique and ultimately successful because ... it has a powerful connection with the real world unlike most of games engulfing gamers into their own fantasy world [and] the augmented reality technology implemented in the game is more advanced."

What does Pokémon Go mean for developers?

Pokémon Go brings something new to the table, enabling mobile device users to capture Pokémon creatures and exercise at the same time. 

For developers, the app shows how innovation can drive success, both now and in the future. 

"What game developers can learn from [Pokémon Go] is that they need to offer something new and different to engage today's audience," Edelson stated. "There are a lot of games on the market today and developers need to ask themselves questions like: Why is there a need for my offering? What can I do to make it unique? How can I attract and retain the attention of today's consumer?"

A crowd swarms in Central
Park to catch a rare Pok
(click image to enlarge)

Pokémon Go also highlights the potential of AR and may lead many developers to explore AR opportunities in the future.

"We can learn from this new phenomenon of people gathering in physical locations to do digital things," Dave Swartz, co-founder of mobile app development company MEDL Mobile, told FierceDeveloper. "Lots of people have tried this before, but nobody has ever hit it like this before. There's a whole new user behavior for us to study and learn from."

How will Pokémon Go impact the mobile gaming sector?

Games market research firm SuperData Research pointed out the mobile games market generated $25 billion in revenues worldwide last year, and Pokémon Go may help this segment grow significantly. 

Furthermore, Pokémon Go illustrates the true value of smartphones and tablets for mobile gaming. 

Because Pokémon Go delivers a unique and engaging user experience, the app has generated substantial interest from end users globally. 

Meanwhile, mobile device advancements could drive new innovations in the mobile gaming market, creating additional revenue opportunities for developers.

"As smartphones become more powerful, more of the world becomes connected and more of the big brands begin to fully understand how to take advantage of this platform, we're going to see more and more success stories like this. The market continues to get bigger and the viral impact of a game like Pokémon Go can be tremendous," Graeme Barlow, director of marketing at mobile agency Iversoft Solutions, told FierceDeveloper