I’m about to do a minor rally against a game that made a billion dollars in less than a year. Are you prepared for this? Clearly the odds are against me, but we’ll get to that later.
The target is Pokemon Go, a product that damn near the entire staff has sunk countless hours into. Some of us have even dragged our significant others and non-gaming friends into the step-inducing, monster-catching madness. The return of Pokemania was so fierce that it erroneously led to an insane spike in Nintendo’s stock price until the company had to set Wall St. straight. As Niantic was coming out of its shell it mentioned that the title that consumed the world was an MVP, or minimum viable product in tech speak.
The decision to release early has turned out to be a bad idea. “But that billion dollars you mentioned, iTZKooPA?” Yes, yes, it’s clearly worked in the short term. Can’t deny that.
Let’s think back to launch, the game barely worked. It was near unplayable for days due to server issues. It contained the most basic of Pokemon staples, the monster and catching them, and only the earliest of generations, a common complaint. A hoped-for hardware component that never really materialized. The hunger for a more mobile, more MMOesque Pokemon experience let us hope and anticipate more. We figured they’d clean up the bugs as the featureset increased. Remove the rose-colored glasses and extract hope and you’ll realize the Pokemon Go featureset has barely budged. Players have left in droves. Consistently.
Simply put, Single games that aren’t MMOs aren’t platforms. They never will be. Pokemon Go, and many uber popular mobile games before it, will always bleed users as they move to the next big thing. The idea of WoW tourism was real in the MMO space and it’s exacerbated in the hyper competitive, easy to enter mobile space.
Of course, a decline from a 1,000,000,000 dollars in less than a year isn’t the worst thing. Most AAA games would kill for 10% of that…An article for another day.