Pokémon Go by the Numbers

by Jennifer Rezny
on 15 July 2016
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Pokémon was many things for me in 1997. As of the past week, it's some new things to the whole world.

In 1997, Pokémon was the television show I watched after school, the card game I watched (and saw banned) on the playground, the toys I played with, and the game I played on my very first console. Perhaps most vividly, it was my fantasy life –– I was still only seven years old, and though I don't recall any imaginary friends before that, Pokémon became a staple of my imaginary life. Walking to school? I had a Raichu by my side. Taking a bath? I was sharing my bubblebath with Pokémon. Going on a family trip? I had an invisible trailer hitched to the back of the family car for my Pokémon to travel in, and I'd watch out the window imagining my Rapidash racing alongside the highway.

If you had sat me down and told me in all sincerity that someday I'd be able to go out in the world and find Pokémon on a map and catch them, and that people from all walks of life would play it, I wouldn't have believed it. It would have been the culmination of everything I dreamed of, but I still wouldn't have imagined it possible until Pokémon Go was brought into the world.

Pokémon Go's initial release in Australia, New Zealand and the United States just over a week ago marks a huge change in how we interact with technology. I would venture to say it's colossal, even setting aside my own vivid nostalgia for the series. While I'm sure many of us have happened across news and social media coverage of it, I thought it prudent to put Pokémon Go in perspective with some of the major news events of the past five years: Donald Trump's rise to American politics, cultural phenomenon Game of Thrones, international crisis with ISIS, and the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.


In a week, Pokémon Go has gotten more traction on Google than Donald Trump has in his entire political campaign. It is almost triple what traction Game of Thrones has had at its peak. It towers above a political shift that has displaced over 3.3 million people and caused untold economic damages. It lays waste to Rio, which should be coming into the spotlight with the games starting in two weeks' time.

It has surpassed every other mobile game in US history for downloads, with 21 million active daily users. Analysts believe it is making at least 1.6 million dollars a day on the iOS platform alone.

It has moved Nintendo's stock by 51% –– this is a stock shift Nintendo hasn't seen since the early 80s, surpassing even the initial Pokémon craze, adding $11 billion USD to Nintendo's market cap.

The game is only formally available in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal thus far, though players around the world have been downloading it regardless. All of these numbers can be expected to shift even higher as the game continues to roll out in new areas, but for a game that few people had heard of and had extremely little social traction before its release, the traction it has gained now is astounding.

There are reports of massive gatherings around the world –– hundreds of people showing up on the Santa Monica pier in California to all catch the same Wartortle, over 5000 gathering at the Botanic Gardens in Sydney to play together. Police had to break up a gathering of thousands in a Sydney suburb after it was swamped with people for days. The Holocaust Museum has issued a statement asking people to stop showing up to play. South Korean players are journeying to the Sokcho, the only city in the country that has Pokémon. 

Suffice to say, Pokémon Go is colossal, and it will change how we use technology. It's not just a game –– it has the makings of a social movement. 

Like many others' surely are, my inner seven year old is in awe.