Pokémon Go is still incredibly relevant

Even though Pokémon Go is turning five years old this week, it’s still going strong with upcoming events, some notable fans, and what appears to be a whole lot of profit. It looks like Niantic’s Pokémon Go brought in over $5 billion since its launch in July of 2016, averaging around a billion dollars per year, according to Sensor Tower analytics. The game started out as a viral sensation but has obviously had staying power over the five years that it’s been around. Sensor Tower claims that Pokémon Go players spent $1.3 billion in 2020, besting its record-setting 2019 revenue by around $400 million.

Sensor Tower’s data seems to indicate that the game not only survived the pandemic, but came out stronger. It’s a bit surprising, at least to me, given how few people I know who still play. Sensor Tower cites Niantic’s updates to the game as one of the reasons for the game’s 2020 success, as the company made it more suited to a world where people couldn’t necessarily go for walks or gather in large crowds.

While Niantic hasn’t released its own numbers or reasons for the success, we do know it plans to keep adapting to our new reality. As we move into the latter half of 2021, Niantic says it’s planning on reverting some of the changes it made in response to the pandemic, while also keeping some around and further tweaking the game.

The game doesn’t seem to be losing steam in 2021 — on July 17th and 18th, Niantic will be holding its online Pokémon Go Fest, with some cities having in-person events on the 17th. The event will be music-themed, and admission will cost $5, down from $14.99 in previous years, in honor of the game’s five-year anniversary. The game also recently got a shout-out from Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto in an investor Q&A, with the Mario and Zelda creator saying that he was hooked on playing Pokémon Go with his family.

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