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Pokémon GO: Examining the App’s Explosive Growth

by Matt Banner | 3 COMMENTS Add yours here | Last Updated on

Pokémon GO has become so popular that the countries it’s currently not available in already have spin-offs of the app.

Even better, the spin-offs already rank as the top installed free gaming app in those countries.

And for some of the select countries fortunate enough to have the game, there’s even an Ultimate Cheats app for the game.

Pokemon Go World Domination

You literally can’t make this stuff up. The world is infected with Pokemon fever, and the only cure is to catch ’em all!

I grew up playing the Pokémon games and collecting the trading cards, but it’s hard to imagine the kind of explosion in popularity this app has received.

Today, I’m going to show you how a massive phenomenon like this can teach you how to seize opportunities for your business! Here’s the road map:


What is Pokémon GO and Why is it Important?

Pokémon is a franchise that has truly stood the test of time. With numerous video games, television shows, a trading card game, and now a free-to-play mobile app, it is truly a worldwide phenomenon.

The titular Pokémon are fictional creatures that exist in a world where Trainers catch, train, and battle them for sport. While the franchise began with 151 different creatures to catch and collect, today there are 729 different Pokémon in the complete roster.


Until now, there haven’t been any mobile apps based on the Pokémon brand, but with the release of Pokémon GO all of that has changed. The app caught fire almost instantly and spread across the world. People in my generation grew up playing these games and even now in our adult years, nostalgia is a powerful thing.

Pokémon GO released in three countries on July 6th, 2016. The United States, New Zealand, and Australia were the first to have access to the app. On July 13th, the app was officially released in Germany. Further releases are planned in the rest of the world over the course of the coming months.

Here’s where it gets crazy: 

Since it’s release, the game has crossed 15 million downloads and has been making an average of $1.6 million per day in revenue according to estimates done by SensorTower. What’s even more shocking is the fact that users are spending more time playing this than browsing all of the top social media networks.


Anything that dethrones Facebook is worth looking into. As you can see from the chart below,  Pokémon GO players are spending as much as ten minutes more time on the app than on any of today’s major social media platforms.

If that’s not enough to make your jaw drop, in a single week this app has received more downloads than the famous (infamous?) dating app known as Tinder!

Nintendo, the owners of the Pokémon brand, have been reaping the rewards as well. Nintendo’s market value has soared to $28 billion since the game’s release. After the game’s release, the stocks went up 24.5% in a single day! This was the largest one-day surge since 1983.

Statistics That Prove It’s Pokémon GO Time!

  • Pokemon GO hit the top of the US app charts in thirteen hours.
  • The game was number one on Germany’s iPhone ranking in three hours after launch.
  • Clash Royale and Slither.io had 1.67% and .84% of android users in four days after launch, Pokemon GO had 10.81% in four days after it’s launch.
  • Despite being a free game, the premium purchases are pulling in over $2 million per day since launch.  
  • As of 7/13/16 there were 21 million daily active users in the US.
  • 5.92% of all Android users play the game daily.
  • Cost to make the game was around $30 million, the game made $14.04 million as of 7/11/16.
  • The first days estimated revenue is between $3.9 and $4.9 million.
  • After five days, Nintendo’s market value went up to $9 billion.


The game itself is free to download and play on iOS and Android devices. It is classified as a location-based augmented reality game, which is a mouthful, I know. The game uses the GPS in your smartphone to track your position on a digital map. As you travel in the real world, different types of Pokémon will appear in the map on your phone.

When this happens, you’re able to tap on them and see the creature standing in front of you through your phone’s camera. This combination of a digital image within a view of the real world is known as augmented reality.


Using specialized devices called Pokéballs, you are able to swipe on your phone’s screen and capture these creatures for your collection. Progression in the game requires you to continue capturing and powering up your Pokémon until they are ready to evolve into a more powerful version of themselves.

Major landmarks in the real world become stores in Pokémon GO that you can visit to refill your supplies of lures and the Pokéballs needed to capture more. Real world currency can be used to purchase these items which is how the game makes its revenue.

The game has grown exponentially in the time since its release, hitting the top of all the major Android and iOS rankings with ease. While the fans are most certainly pleased, there have been mixed reviews from critics.


On the one hand, the game has been getting people out and exercising as they search the real world for Pokémon, but on the other hand, people have been using the game while driving, prompting public service announcements and safety tips from local police departments.

These safety tips include things like being aware of your surroundings and not playing while driving. You know, things you would expect people to already know.

There have been countless stories online about players entering restricted areas or even getting themselves into danger in the pursuit of catching more Pokémon. It’s been a long time since something took the world by storm like this.

I know what you’re thinking now:

Why Does This Matter to Me?

Well, whether you’re a fan of Pokémon or not, this huge impact that the app has made offers a lot of opportunities to discuss useful topics for bloggers, and represents a way for you to increase your traffic by writing timely content that fans will find useful.

Now, the real fun begins!

How Small Businesses Are Cashing in on Pokemon GO’s Success

At a surface level, the success of Pokémon GO is solely in the hands of Nintendo and Niantic, but if we look deeper, there are plenty of opportunities for other businesses to cash in on this craze. Depending on where your business is located, you may be a major hotspot for the game’s players.

In the game there are two types of locations in the real world that players will flock to:

  • Gyms – These locations are where players can battle their captured creatures and fight for control of the location. Holding control earns them premium items, so they must visit frequently to keep the gym in their team’s name.
  • PokéStops – These are stores in the game that can be visited numerous times a day by players. Here they can earn free items for stopping by.

So, how can businesses utilize these two locations? After looking into the game’s mechanics, there are several ways you can tap into this potential. Here’s a step-by-step guide to using Pokémon GO to benefit your business:

1. Check to See If Your Business is a Stop or a Gym

This is simple to see if you’ve downloaded the game. If you’d rather not, there’s a simple workaround that involves using the data fans have gathered on Niantic’s first game: Ingress. In that game, players travel the real world exactly like they do in Pokémon GO.

To see this map, you’ll need to download Ingress and sign in on the game’s website, but these portals are essentially in the exact same places as the stops and gyms in Pokémon GO. Using this online map, you can also search for portals and quickly navigate the map without the need to go anywhere in the real world.  

  1. Purchase and Deploy Lures

Businesses that happen to be PokeStops as well are using paid items called “lures” to attract huge numbers of people to their location. These items aren’t very expensive in the grand scheme of things, but they increase the rate at which Pokémon appear for thirty minutes.

This is enough incentive to bring players in by the dozens. Doing the math, it comes out to roughly $1.19 per hour to keep lures active in your location. If you want to try this at your business location, go into the game’s shop and purchase the lures using premium currency you can buy in the app.

Tap the lure to activate on the PokéStop where your business is located, and watch the foot traffic come rolling in.

  1. Utilize Nearby Gyms

Unlike PokéStops, gyms are a little different. Players fight for control of these locations, so they’re constantly in flux. Capitalizing on these requires a little more creativity than simply deploying lures, but they still represent a lucrative opportunity.

Here are great ideas for engaging with players at your business or near a gym:

  • Create Contests – Try offering discounts or free items to people who can prove they took over the gym. You can offer Pokémon themed items, or simply food and drink promotions.
  • Track the Winning Team – Gyms can be controlled by one of three factions in the game. Try keeping score as to which team is currently holding the gym down.
  1. Jump on Social Media

Taking screenshots in the game is easy and offers great visual content for your social media pages. If there’s a rare Pokémon appearing in our location, take a snapshot by hitting the camera button in the game while you’re trying to catch.

Put that puppy up on social and tell people to come catch ‘em all!

  1. Look Out For Future Updates

The success of Pokémon GO has already been drumming up rumors about what’s coming next to the app. You can bet your business that there will be new elements added to the game as time goes on.

Current reports are saying that new gameplay elements will be added into the game as time goes on. These elements will be aimed at getting players to stay in the game longer.

The ability to trade your captured creatures is also being added eventually, which is something players in the previous games have been able to do since the dawn of the series.

Further planned improvements include more features at the gyms and stops in the real world. The company is even planning on selling companion devices like a wearable device that buzzes when Pokémon are nearby.  

Keeping an ear out for these big changes gives you the opportunity to seize more strategies for your business.

The Power of Brand Recognition: Pokémon GO vs Ingress

The Pokémon Company is responsible for this massive franchise. Being owned by Nintendo, their games have always been on Nintendo devices. In this move, the two companies paired with a mobile developer called Niantic Inc. to create Pokémon GO .



Interestingly enough, Niantic had another game before this new smash hit.

Ever heard of Ingress? 

Me neither, and I’m the kind of person who plays my fair share of games. Ingress is an augmented reality mobile app, the first game developed by superstar developer Niantic Inc. It’s actually played by millions of people in over 200 countries. 

In this game, players divided into teams and play in a world where XM or “Exotic Matter” is the focus of the story. To progress in the game through the sixteen levels, players must seek out “portals” in the real world to capture.

In an interview with The New York Times, John Hanke, CEO of Niantic, compared the company’s first game to their new hit:

“There’s a lot of Ingress in it; the idea of building it around certain locations, and those locations are what give you the things you need to play the game and where the action takes place.”

The relative success of Ingress is what put Niantic on the map and earned them the job offer from Nintendo and The Pokémon Company to make this new game. They essentially took the same premise and technology from Ingress and applied it to a worldwide brand like Pokémon.

It was a match made in heaven, clearly, as the game is doing incredibly well.

So, what’s the lesson here? 

Brand Recognition ladies and gentlemen. Ingress is an incredibly well-designed augmented reality game, but it never received the attention it deserved until that same design was paired with something that just about anyone will recognize.

This isn’t the first time that a brand has been used to propel the success of a product, and it certainly won’t be the last, but how can we, as bloggers, tap into this phenomenon?

It’s simple: 

We create useful and relevant content that utilizes Pokémon in some way, thus giving it that brand recognition for readers.

Here are some content format examples that can be used to tie Pokémon into your blog’s niche:

1. Infographics 

An infographic is a visually pleasing way to display data or information. In the case of Pokémon, we decided to show how it’s swept the world and topped all of the app charts since its release. This is a great way to bring people to the site and get them interested in our niche, which is of course, starting and growing a blog.

2. Share Useful Content on Social Media 

Whether you’ve written it yourself, or curated from another source, presenting your readers with useful content that incorporates the brand will help attract them to your own. Just remember to tie it back into your niche so you reap the benefits of the other brand’s popularity.

3. Custom Graphics 

Separate from infographics, you can create custom graphics that simply present interested facts or statistics about the brand. These attract attention to your content by riding on the other brand’s influence.

Now, let’s apply this to Pokémon GO.

Crafting Timely Content: Pokémon GO Edition

Now we’re going to bring this full circle. Pokémon GO represents a gold mine for potential content.

When opportunities arise for you to create content based on a big event like this, seizing them can earn you some epic traffic for your site and and perhaps a spot in the organic search rankings for a relevant keyword.

For all the Pokémon fans and bloggers out there, here are a few example posts that provide useful content for the game’s players.


10 Facts You Should Know Before Playing Pokémon GO

When i first downloaded the new Pokémon mobile app, I assumed I would know what I was doing. After all, I was a generation 1 player rocking the original Red and Blue versions of the game on my giant brick of a GameBoy

While I was able to understand some of the mechanics on my own, there are certainly a few things I would have liked to know from the start. Whether you’ve been playing since launch or you just finished the download, here are ten things you need to know before you play Pokémon GO : 

1. You Can Choose Pikachu as a Starter 

Long time Pokémon fans like me know that when you begin your adventure, you’re usually given a choice between three “starter” Pokémon. In this case, it’s the original three: Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander. I grabbed Squirtle and went on my way, but as it turns out, you can choose another: the famous Pikachu. 

To do so, simply walk away without choosing one. Exit the general vicinity and you’ll find that they follow you. The game will ask you to pick again three more times before Pikachu becomes an option.

If you’re like me and you didn’t know this, don’t worry, you’ll eventually have the other ones as you travel into the world.

2. The Capture System is Simple to Learn, But Hard to Master 

When you first encounter a new Pokémon, you’ll probably swipe once , throw a ball, and capture it. As time goes on, though, you’re going to find that it gets harder. The game doesn’t really tell you this, but you’ll notice that when you press down before you swipe, a colored circle begins closing around the creature. 

Swiping when this circle is smallest gives you the best odds of success. Try to aim your ball through the circle. If you need to throw when the circle is larger to do so, then that’s fine.  If they break free, don’t get mad, that’s normal. 

The color of the circle (green, yellow, red) will also indicate how difficult capturing that particular Pokémon will be. Eventually, you will also come across treats which make this process easier. More powerful Pokéballs will also aid you in your capturing quest.

3. Battling is Also More Complicated Than it Looks 

When you are a high enough level to take on gyms in the game, you’ll find that the battle system is quite chaotic. When you’re fighting other Pokémon, you can swipe on the screen to dodge their attacks for starters.

You can also use special moves as your meter fills by holding down your finger on the enemy Pokémon. Since the game’s launch, there have been situations where the server gets bogged down and won’t end a fight when you win.

This “immortal boss glitch” is something that should be ironed out in future updates, but it’s important that you don’t tap like a madman/woman when it freezes. This will further overload the servers on their end.

4. You Can’t Game The Egg-Walking (So Don’t Try) 

Hatching Pokémon eggs in the game is done by traveling certain distances. Now, unlike other games, this is not tracked by a pedometer. That means that shaking your phone or riding in a car doesn’t count.

The game tracks your movement via GPS, so you have to do real, honest to goodness walking, or it doesn’t count. Purchasing incubators in the game makes this easier, but they cost real money.

5. Nothing is Getting Tracked When You Close the Game

Leaving an app open with your GPS on is absolute murder for your battery. Pokémon GO asks you to do both, unfortunately. When you close the app, it doesn’t track your steps, notify you of Pokémon, or anything of the sort. It will, however, continue counting down timers on your premium items which is kind of annoying.

This means that if you want to be on top of the game, you have to be that guy/girl who walks around with their face buried in their phone. Keep in mind that more than a few accidents have happened this way, so pay attention to your surroundings and don’t let the game suck you in too much.

6. Gyms Require More Than a Few Victories 

Anyone who has played the Pokémon games knows that when you enter a gym, you face the leader, and then you win control of the gym. This new game does things a little differently. 

A single victory won’t give you the gym. Instead, you’ll need to win repeated fights until the gym’s reputation is at zero. Sometimes this takes two, three, or more fights to accomplish.

You can heal between fights, but none of this is explained in detail, so it’s best to understand the system before your first fight.

7. Controlling Gyms Earns You Free Currency 

If you manage to take over a gym (nice job!) you have to station Pokémon there to defend it. Each day you manage to keep a gym under your control earns you a hefty sum of the game’s currency. 

Depending on where the gym is located, holding it for this long can be simple, or extremely difficult. Players who are Ingress veterans note that you shouldn’t get comfortable with any one gym as another player will most like oust you before you know it.

8. Evolve Duplicate Pokémon For Major XP 

Leveling up is very important in Pokémon, but in the new app it’s far easier said than done. Case and point: if you’ve been smart and caught a bunch of low-level duplicates, then you’re sitting on a gold mine. 

It doesn’t cost much candy at all to evolve these Pokémon, but they yield hundreds of experience points (XP) per evolution. This is a great way to quickly gain several levels. 

9. Be Smart With Your Spending

The game will constantly suggest that you power up your Pokémon using stardust, but the second you do, you’ll probably find a more powerful duplicate out in the wild. Instead of potentially wasting your currency, save up all the candy and stardust you need to evolve your basic Pokémon to their third stage. 

By doing this, you leave yourself with the opportunity to find duplicates that are more powerful for no cost to yourself.

10. Nearby Tracking is Confusing 

The system that shows how close certain Pokémon are to you is confusing if you don’t know how to use it. Thankfully, I came across an article that explains Pokémon GO ‘s tracking in detail. Essentially, you need to open the grid that shows which Pokémon are nearby. 

The grid shows the Pokémon that are closest to you in order of closest to farthest. The one in the top left is closest (represented by 3 footprints or less) and the one in the bottom right is furthest.

Leaving this grid open while you walk will shuffle the icons to indicate if you’re getting closer or further from a particular one. Keep it handy to ensure you’re not going on a wild goose chase.

How to Download Pokémon GO if It’s Not Released in Your Country

If you’re living in the U.S, the U.K, Australia, or in New Zealand then you can download the game, no problem. What about the rest of the world? Well, it’s coming but we don’t know exactly when.

In the meantime, there are methods to download the game, but I must caution you now:

These are not sanctioned by Niantic Inc. Perform these workarounds at your own risk!

Now, there are two different methods here for iOS and Android. Let’s start with the former:

Download For iOS in an Unreleased Country

Start this method by logging out of your Apple ID. We’re going to make your iOS device believe you’re somewhere that you’re not. Select your settings and select General > Language & Region. Set your region to US, UK, New Zealand, or Australia.

Open the store and you should see the game. If not, choose another free app and create a new Apple ID. Don’t put a credit card on the new account, but make sure you put in an address for the region you selected.

You can start playing now, and since the game’s saved data is in the cloud, you’ll be able to reinstall the game when it’s released in your country under your primary Apple ID. The saved data will carry over so you can pick up where you left off!

Download For Android in an Unreleased Country

This process begins by enabling your phone to runs apps downloaded from places other than the Google Play Store. As I said before, this method is not approved by Niantic or Nintendo who are actively trying to take down these downloads links.

Make sure you download APK files only from reputable sites as they can easily contain malware if you download it from a questionable place. That being said, start by going into your Security settings and scroll down to where it says “unknown sources” turn this setting on.

Head over to the APK page and download it.  You’ll get a warning about downloading it, but do so anyway since the link above is from a well-known site that won’t give your phone malware.

Once it’s finished, select the file from your drop-down menu and choose to install it. You’ll be able to play now and when it does release in your area, the saved data will be in the cloud and therefore accessible by you. You can pick up where you left off.

How to Save Your Phone’s Battery While Playing Pokémon GO

The first time you played, you probably watched your battery plummet. After all, you need to have the game running to accomplish just about anything. In a matter of hours, you’ll probably be stuck with a low battery warning.

The developers have said they’re going to work on updating the game so it’s not the Humvee of battery hogs. In the meantime, I’m here to give you some tips on how to save your phone’s precious battery while playing the game.

1. Lower The Brightness, Turn Down the Volume, Disable Background Apps

This first step is a trifecta of tasks that you’ll need to perform. Luckily they’re all simple and quick. Lower the brightness on your screen, especially if you’re playing at night anyway.

You should also lock your phone between uses to save even more. Airplane mode will come in handy in between destinations as well. While the music is awesome, turning off the sound or turning the volume down saves battery as well.

In terms of background apps, disable things like Pandora, Spotify, Google Music, and the like. Facebook, Google Maps, and email are also bad at draining your battery.

You may be tempted to enable battery-saving modes as well, but these typically turn down the processing speed of your phone and will ultimately mess with your game experience.

The game itself has a power saving mode that dims your screen when the phone is upside down (i.e in your pocket).

2. Buy Yourself a Battery Pack

Augmented reality games will always drain your battery, but you can use a battery pack to recharge when this inevitably comes. With these, you can plug your phone into the pack and get your battery charge back.

You can find these for less then thirty dollars and they will back a punch. In some cases, one charge on these will recharge your phone over five times in the case of an iPhone 6s.

3. Disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi While Out and About 

A common battery-saving technique is to disable bluetooth and Wi-Fi while you’re not within range of either. While these are on, the phone is constantly searching for signals.

Disabling these will keep your phone from searching constantly for something that isn’t there and ultimately save you battery life. Not only this, but you’ll also spare yourself any issues as a result of the phone connecting during game play.

If the phone finds a Wi-Fi hotspot during the game, it could interrupt your sessions and possibly cost you a win.

4. Minimize Interaction When the Battery is Low 

When you tap on the screen, swipe to throw a ball, or even just navigate the menus, you’re using more energy than usual. When you’re phone is low on battery, combat this by only interacting with the game when you absolutely have to.

Don’t look around the map, zoom in, or zoom out. Anything that requires input will use more energy then you can spare if your battery is low.

5. Take Care of Your Batteries Too 

With the accidents and issues people have had while playing the game and not paying attention, I think it’s worth noting that you should make sure you have a pack that contains items for you, so your batteries don’t die.

If you’re going to be walking around for significant distances outside, consider bringing a backpack. In said backpack you should include the following items:

  • Water bottles
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Sunglasses
  • An external battery back/charger
  • Snacks/granola bars

These things will ensure that you have what you need to keep your batteries from draining.

6. Disable the Camera 

The main draw of Pokémon on phones revolves around using the camera to see the creatures in our real world. That being said, you can disable this feature by turning off the switch that appears while catching one.

Instead of using your phone to show video through the camera, you’ll have a cartoon background. It’s not as cool, but it does save power so consider it in a pinch.

Cheating in Pokémon GO (And Why You Shouldn’t)

Believe it or not, people have been getting good at messing with the systems in place on the app. While driving doesn’t count because of the speed, one person went so far as to attach their phone to a drone!

Other techniques also allow you plant yourself in a place where your not. This allows you to find other types of Pokémon without traveling. Other cheating tools are there as well, there is no reason to use them.

For starters, being caught causes Pokémon to run from you for a full hour. That doesn’t seem like much, but the game is young and the punishment during the beta was far more severe.

Ultimately, cheating in the game isn’t smart. Stay away from tempting ideas and simply play it how it was meant to be played.

Final Thoughts

Pokémon GO is a worldwide phenomenon, hands down. It is a shining example of how you can use brand recognition to promote and release a product. For us, as bloggers, it’s the perfect example of something we can tap into.

By creating relevant and timely content, we can tie events like this into our niche with useful posts that bring people to our sites and ultimately to our brand as well. Think of it like an influencer of sorts that makes more people aware of your blog/brand.

Do you play? How have you harnessed timely content and brand recognition in the past? Let us know in the comments!


  1. vickysoft05@gmail.com'vicky

    It’s Pokémon GO Time: The Ultimate Guide to Catchin’ Them All … world is infected with Pokemon fever, and the only cure is to catch ’em all!


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