It’s been quite a year for Pokémon GO. Recently named Google Play’s game of 2016, the mobile game has been on fire since it launched in July. Within a couple weeks of its debut, the game was bringing in an estimated $3 million a day.
While some users stopped playing after the novelty wore off (still leaving 30 million users per day), Halloween and Thanksgiving updates brought them back, with revenue increasing by about 133%. With Generation 2 Pokémon rumored to be releasing this month, popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
Most of the game’s success seems to lie in its ability to achieve the seemingly impossible: effectively joining the worlds of gaming and fitness. Fans of the mobile app have been losing weight, exercise experts have heralded it, and just a few weeks ago it received an award for best exercise idea of the year from Finland’s Outdoor Association.
Corey Andres, an education, sports and recreation expert, said that part of the game’s brilliance is its ability to appeal to a variety of workout types: the private exerciser, the competitor, or the social-seeker.
“If you want to do it in isolation you can, if you want to compete to capture the most characters you can, if want to do it socially, you can by design,” Andres said. “It can really motivate all types of exercisers.”
Within this augmented reality game, you play the part of “Pokémon trainer”, using your phone’s GPS to track and catch Pokémon (a kind of cartoon creature), train them, and then use them to go to battle with other players’ Pokémon.
According to a study, you’d have to catch about 40 Pokémon a day to lose a pound a week.
Cory Barnett, 28, of St. Louis, said the fitness factor was a big draw for him when he downloaded the game after its launch. Overcoming a martial arts injury, Barnett lost 15 pounds within the first month of playing the game on his phone.
“I use POGO as an exercise routine definitely,” Barnett said, calling the game “revolutionary”.