Players of Pokémon Go have spent more than $250 million on the addictive “augmented reality” mobile game in its first few weeks, according to an international survey, with the figures suggesting it is on course to hit $1 billion in sales.
One in five players of Pokémon Go spends money within the smartphone app — with 11 million paying users in the UK and US alone, according to the survey of nearly 50,000 people from the UK, US and Germany by pollster YouGov.
To play Pokémon Go, gamers use their smartphone’s GPS to find, capture, fight and train virtual creatures superimposed on the real world shown by their camera. Players can purchase items to advance the game, including coins, eggs and incubators.
In-app payments for the game crossed $268 million within five weeks of launch, says YouGov. In the UK, 1 million people paid to play Pokémon Go in its first month, with the majority of those paying between 80p and £14.99, rather than the minimum of 79p. Meanwhile, 29 percent and 20 percent of American and German players respectively spent money in the app, with 9 percent of German fans — equivalent to 142,000 people — spending more than €100.
“Our research is showing that spend levels in five weeks in just three countries is over a quarter of a billion dollars,” said Stephen Harmston, head of YouGov Reports. “Start projecting that over time and across 72 countries where Pokémon Go is available and you’ll see how quickly this will become a $1 billion run-rate game.”
A comparative analysis of two other high-grossing mobile games, Clash Royale from Finnish game maker Supercell and King.com’s Candy Crush Soda Saga, found that they had hit sales of $125 million and $25 million respectively in their first 30 days, according to app analyst Sensor Tower — less than half of Pokémon Go’s earnings.
The YouGov study also found that, on average, 13 percent of the adult population across these three countries had downloaded Pokémon Go, and 90 percent continued to play it four weeks after launch. A full third of players were higher earning over 35s, which helps to explain the money being spent on in-app features. “It’s still early days, but this suggests the game has staying power and is not just a flash in the pan,” Mr Harmston said.
In-app purchases are a key feature helping apps to generate cash, with 2015’s top performing apps all being games: the ever popular Clash of Clans, Game of War and Candy Crush Saga. However, most new games drop off in popularity after about a month.
Pokémon Go continues to generate tens of millions of downloads per day and John Hanke, chief executive of Niantic which created the game with Nintendo, has said it will also make money from “sponsored locations”. Businesses ranging from McDonald’s to pubs, movie theatres and bars will pay to show up as prominent locations in the game.
“This is a turning point for brands and augmented reality,” said YouGov’s Harmston.