- "Pokémon Go" last week saw a 67% jump in global spending to $23 million from the prior seven-day period after software developer Niantic changed the location-based augmented reality (AR) game for indoor play during the coronavirus pandemic, VentureBeat reported, citing data from app analytics firm Sensor Tower.
- U.S. players of "Pokémon Go" spent $7.8 million on the game, making up 34% of its total haul. Niantic's revised version of the game prioritized game updates for "individual settings," such as showing digital creatures that don't require players to leave home to capture, according to Polygon.
- Niantic also postponed its Abra Community Day and Safari Zone events that corral players in a public setting, per a blog post.
The significant jump in revenue reported for "Pokémon Go" is a telling indicator that Niantic's strategy of updating the game for indoor play is working as housebound players are limited from exploring their outdoor surroundings.
"Pokémon Go" helped popularize augmented reality (AR) technology by pairing it with geolocation features that were essential to gameplay, which urges people to walk around in search of digital creatures only visible while looking through a smartphone camera. Niantic smartly prioritized the safety of gamers with changes to "Pokémon Go" and the postponement or cancelation of live events, and adjusting some of the game's mechanics for a shelter-at-home setting appears to be paying out.
Still, the coronavirus pandemic has likely disrupted Niantic's efforts to transform "Pokémon Go" into an advertising platform. Last year, the company announced an announced an ambitious plan to let small- and medium-size businesses sponsor locations in the game, whose key feature is driving foot traffic to specific locations.
CEO John Hanke described its plan as the "anti-Amazon" model, VentureBeat reported. The idea was that "Pokémon Go" gameplay was contrary to the idea of having goods delivered directly to customers' homes. Instead, the coronavirus pandemic has made people more reliant on retailers that provide home delivery of food and other essentials.
Niantic is among the companies that have canceled gaming-related events during the pandemic. "Minecraft" developer Mojang this month announced the cancellation of the Minecraft Festival, which had been scheduled for Sept. 25-27, because of the difficulties in organizing the "mammoth event" when people are self-quarantining, according to a company blog post. Amazon's Twitch livestreaming platform also canceled TwitchCon Amsterdam, set for early May. Twitch hasn't announced any changes to TwitchCon San Diego, which is still scheduled for Sept. 25-27, per its website.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in mobile game downloads as people look for ways to pass the time while stuck indoors. Downloads last month jumped 39% in China, where the coronavirus originated, per Sensor Tower data cited by Reuters. Apple's App store experienced a 62% surge in game downloads, as mobile users sought out puzzle games like "Brain Out" and "Honor of Kings," the online battle game from Chinese tech giant Tencent, according to App Annie.