There may not be any official figures yet, but the buzz around its new augmented reality game Pokemon Go has made it clear it’s a big hit.
SensorTower estimates the app had passed 15 million downloads on Google Play and Apple’s App Store, with revenue from the latter standing at around $1.6 million per day.
What’s more, on 11 July, the average iPhone user spent 33 minutes in the game, compared to 22 minutes in Facebook and 18 for Snapchat.
In the US, it was installed on more than 5 per cent of Android devices within the first two days of being launched, according to web analytics firm SimilarWeb, which added that it is now on more Android phones than popular dating app Tinder, with daily active user numbers closing in on Twitter.
It is currently available in Australia, New Zealand, Germany and UK, with new regions expected to be added soon.
The Wall Street Journal said Nintendo’s market value was boosted by $9 billion following the launch.
The app is based on the popular Pokemon franchise and was developed by Niantic, maker of the popular augmented reality gaming app Ingress.
It uses real locations to allow players to find and catch Pokemon (fictional characters collected by players to battle with) as they explore their surroundings.
Several security issues have come up since the launch of the game. For one, there are reports that users have been lured into areas by criminals using the geolocation feature.
“We encourage all people playing Pokemon Go to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places,” the Pokemon Company and Niantic said in an emailed statement.
Another issue is that iOS users logging in from their Google account were asked by the app for full access to that account, although the blog post that first reported this also overstated what this meant in reality.
Niantec told The Verge this was a mistake and that the game will only access basic profile information. It said it is fixing the problem so that the app does not ask for full access, and that Google has verified that no information other than user name and email address has been received by the game or Niantic.
In October last year, the Pokemon Company, Google and Nintendo invested around $30 million in Niantic, which had earlier on in 2015 spun out from Google to become an independent company.
At the time, Niantic had said “We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to create a product true to the spirit of the original Pokemon games while extending gameplay out into the real world. Because it is a mobile game, players all around the world will be able to immerse themselves in the Pokemon universe on devices they already have in their hands.”
App Annie comment
According to App Annie, Pokémon Go was even faster than Clash Royale to hit the number one top grossing app on both iOS and Google Play.
Fabien Pierre-Nicolas, VP of MarCom at App Annie, said that “the game is generating well over $1 million of net revenue for Niantic Labs. I can easily envision a run-rate of over $1 billion per year with less server issues, a worldwide presence and more social and PvP (player vs player) features”.
“Nintendo is a solid example of what game studios can achieve with a great mobile game design and monetisation strategy,” he added.
Meanwhile, Nicolas Beraudo, MD EMEA at App Annie, said Pokemon Go is an exceptional case but expects it to dominate the charts for several months.
“In fact, if Niantic Labs gives the game a worldwide presence, fixes server issues and adds more social and PvP features, we can easily envision it making a $1 billion a year. There is no guarantee that the game will buck the maturity trend, but it has the potential to do so.,” she said.
She also said entering into smartphones has been a great move for Nintendo.
“With more smartphone based titles set to be released by Nintendo, we expect to see the business go from strength-to-strength, proving the central role apps now have in the games industry,” she said.
It was only in March last year that the popular video game maker said it was going to venture into the smartphone realm, and in May later that year set out a plan to launch six titles.
The first of these was Miitomo. In Japan it was downloaded more than 1 million times in its first three days and was hailed a success, although the figure pales in comparison to the success of Pokemon Go.
Meanwhile the game maker has two more smartphone games, Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing, in the works, as it looks to “expand the revenue base” of its mobile products.