Well, it had to slow down sooner or later. Pokémon GO is one of those games that took the world by storm. But what separates it from the likes of Angry Birds and Candy Crush is its complexity and existing fan base. It’s the only game this complex (being not about flapping birds or matching candy) to captivate millions of children and adults including the occasional grandma. But for how long?
In a recent post on their blog, SurveyMonkey Intelligence says “We’re ready to call it. The USA has hit peak Pokémon GO.” The article went on to show the game’s decline in interest along three fronts: the number of daily active users (DAU), daily download rates and Google search activity for the term “Pokémon GO“.
All of the graphs are pointing down with the DAU notably peaking within a week of the game’s release at a little over 25 million daily active users.
It could account for phone-toilet slip rates.
Does this mean the end?
Hmm… not necessarily. As the evidence may not be as damning as it seems.
A decline in daily active users may mean that more people have started to arrange their tall-grass adventuring schedules to fit their lives… or in some cases, vice versa. And a decline in Google searches may indicate that a lot of people have moved on from not knowing what a Pikachu is to making and sharing memes within sites like Facebook.
Also as SurveyMonkey mentions, the game hasn’t been released in other countries yet. As of July 25, there are more than 20 countries where Pokémon GO servers are still non-existent. The US could just be somewhat of a cultural launchpad for the game, which may ripple its way to and back from other countries.
And we still don’t know what sort of updates the Pokemon Company has up their sleeve. Any increase in depth, complexity, the number of Pokémon or content in-general could also affect grandma’s willingness to stick with the game.
In other words, it’s too soon to say.
What if it does decline?
Then it shouldn’t be surprising. What should be surprising is the initial acceptance of millions of players who have never even played a previous Pokémon game. I think a theory called the Law of Diffusion of Innovations might help explain this.
Basically, the players of the game (adopters of the idea) can be categorized into five groups depending on how quickly they jumped onto the bandwagon.
They are either Innovators (2.5%), Early Adopters (13.5%), Early Majority (34%), Late Majority (34%) or Laggards (16%). You’ve heard of this.
Innovators are the people who put up with the initial iterations/prototypes of an idea upon seeing the potential it has. They have the most risk tolerance and strongest imaginations of any group. They’ll support a new idea and start a chain of acceptance, influencing the Early Adopters who then influence the Early Majority… etc.
So, the theory says that the 2.5% (already hyped before the game’s release) spread the news to the 13.5% (who play games but don’t really follow every Pokemon title that comes out). The 13.5% then convinced their non-Pokemon playing friends that it would be fun, which may take a decade or two. This part of the process will always take time. When the first 34% try something, the latter 34% will follow suit. This is where the boom occurs. Mass market acceptance.
I got into Pokemon to get away from math class. And now this?
What’s your point?
The sudden surge of Pokemon popularity may not have been sudden at all. We might just be seeing the mass acceptance after a slow build-up of the Poke-fan base.
If you zoom out the timeline, Pokémon GO players who are new to Pokémon aren’t Innovators. I think they’re actually the Late Majority and the Laggards.
The Innovators were the ones who have surfed Cinnabar Island in search of a MissingNo. They were the 2.5% who saw the adventure of catching ’em all in a 700+ kilobyte cartridge. (They also regret memorizing that one Pokemon rap song) The advent of wireless internet, smartphones and augmented reality was what it took for grandma or that non-gamer friend to “get” Pokémon because they were Laggards.
It takes a lot of imagination to feel boxy Cloud’s sadness in Disc 1 of Final Fantasy VII or to stick with Mass Effect 1‘s buggy Mako driving. But the Early Adopters will stick with it because they see the potential. And it is with their support and admiration that developers improve their craft.
So, depending on your opinion of the game, if you were one of the Innovators or Early Adopters, be sorry/glad. Pokémon Go is your fault/gift to the world.
You can take a look at SurveyMonkey’s full article here:
And here’s an updated list on countries where the game still isn’t available: