Pokemon Go – a business perspective

It is top of the charts in the USA, Australia, Great Britain, Germany and New Zealand, the only countries where it is officially available.  It was supposed to launch today in Japan but that has been delayed due to concerns that demand will crash their servers.  Safe to say that Pokemon Go is a case study in what it means to go viral.

There are stories of people saying that the app is helping them overcome their depression by getting them out of the house and meeting people.  At the same time there are others who have died whilst playing the game. The hype will slow down eventually but for now let’s take a quick look at the numbers.


The game is free to download but gives players the opportunity to make in-app purchases.  Clever.  The game is fine at the start, you get addicted, climb up to a high level and then it becomes impossible to progress without purchasing a few things to help you get to the next level.  Revenue estimates vary widely but some are saying that these purchases could top $5bn per year.


It already has the peak active daily users of all time for a mobile game at 23m.  At 33 minutes, the average user also spends more time on Pokemon Go than 2nd placed Facebook at 23 minutes.  With so many more countries still to see the game released, this could explode even more.  The graph below, from Business Insider, shows just how rapidly 100m users can now be reached – Pokemon Go could get there within 3 weeks!
















Nintendo share price












The huge climb is the Pokemon Go effect – the share price more than doubled.  Today however it is down by 12% as sanity returns to the market.  Nintendo is estimated to only receive between 10-40% of all revenue – the rest will be shared by Apple, Google (where players download the app) and Nianetic (the publisher of the game).  The massive jump in the share price (120% at its peak) sent Nintendo higher than Sony and meant that R300bn has been added to its value since the launch of Pokemon Go.  That clearly is too high, something like half the world would need to be playing the game to justify that valuation!


The developers of apps will be taking note of this success and so we can expect more augmented reality apps coming our way soon.  As a student of business, start thinking, how can I capitalise on the success of Pokemon Go?  When cellphones took off, people that made protective covers for them made a fortune.  What value add could you possibly offer a Pokemon Go enthusiast?


Paul Maughan


  1. Share price grew exponentially within short space of time and this could collapse overnight.While I agree with having to capitalise, it is equally crucial for potential Investors to be vigilant of “overnight success” phenomenon.

    • Agreed! That’s why we are seeing the 12% share price fall so far today. I think the share price will be down another 20-30% within a week – the 120% growth over the past 2 weeks just isn’t backed up by sensible sales projections in my view.

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