Pokemon Go may have been released in 2016 but 2018 was the year that the game really worked out what it is and found its groove. While it may not have the massive mainstream popularity it had when it first launched it has now reached a point where, if it had been released in this state…the whole world may very well be playing. That’s not to say that Pokemon Go isn’t successful in its own right. In 2018 it had nearly $800 million in revenue worldwide as well as hitting the $2 billion in revenue milestone in September 2018. What did the game do last year that worked so well for them? Let’s find out in our review of 2018 in Pokemon Go.
Niantic started off the year strong with the introduction of Community Day, a monthly event in the game that has players all around the world out in their cities catching ‘mons. This event is without a doubt the backbone of what has made 2018 so successful for Pokemon Go. Players around the world are really getting into these events. Some make cookies to hand out to fellow players. Others organize meetups. There’s nothing quite like going out into your town and seeing just how many players there are, all with the same goal.
Certainly, no slouch of a month though nothing that had a real lasting impact on the game. Three events were held, Valentines, Lunar New Year, Legendary Week, and the second ever community day. They also had a number of smaller events that kept players coming back throughout the months.
Research and Special Research were released in March which, if Community Day is the backbone…consider research the legs. Research and Special Research give players something to do in the game day to day besides just catching Pokemon. They’re also very rewarding and in some cases, the only way to get certain Pokemon. The rest of March there were a number of events running for a limited time, and of course, Community Day.
April Fools Day, Kanto Week, Community Day, and Earth Day in April. Events that got us out into the world playing the game, but ultimately didn’t really bring players in either.
Community Day and Adventure Week were the highlights in May. They were still keeping players engaged but the next big introduction to the game wouldn’t come until June.
My Little Pony says friendship is magic, and Niantic is fully on board with this. In June they introduced the Friends feature. The introduction of this feature brought back a flood of players who had previously abandoned the game shortly after the launch hype died down. With it, players could become friends with anyone in the world and trade gifts from them. This also resulted in players being able to get Pokemon whose catch location says somewhere they haven’t been. Thank you, Japanese friends!
In June they also started the Global Challenge, a challenge that kept players going out every day to complete research, adding to all the research completed in their area of the world and unlocking rewards for all. This event continued throughout July.
Throughout July the Global Challenge continued alongside other events, including their anniversary. At the end of the month, they introduced Lucky Pokemon. This gave players incentives to trade their older Pokemon which until that point they had been hoarding. It certainly isn’t a game-changing feature, but at the time it was the boost that trading needed.
August was another rather tame month by Pokemon Go standards. By that, of course, I mean that they had a festival, an Eevee community day that lasted for two days, a new special research, and introduced Niantic Kids. You know, a tame month.
In Korea, Pokemon Go had an entire week dedicated to it in September. Along with this, they began beta testing the Pokestop submission program. This will allow players to suggest places that should be Pokestops in the future. This is also when the Global Challenge bonuses were released. Then came community and Meltan. Meltan is as we now know a tie in Pokemon to tie into Lets Go, new games that are now available on the Switch. At the time though, Nutto was a complete mystery that had Pokemon Go players enthralled.
A psychic day followed by a female Pokemon event, followed by the introduction of Gen IV pokemon, then community day, then Halloween. October was another one of those busy, but not really all that busy months.
In November Niantic introduced what was at that point possibly the second most requested feature for the game, Adventure Sync. This allows players to get egg distance and walking rewards even while Pokemon Go isn’t running. You can even use it on exercise equipment so long as your phone is in your pocket.
November is also when Let’s Go released, along with it a new special research for Meltan. In between, they had a few more events, including our good old friend Community Day.
For many players, myself included, December was the highlight of the year. Niantic started off strong with a community weekend that brought back a few of the previous Community Day Pokemon. Then, out of nowhere, we were surprised by the release of PvP. This has been a feature that players have wanted since the very beginning. Now players can battle Pokemon vs Pokemon and get sweet rewards. Niantic also went to great lengths to make sure that it wasn’t a feature that is totally required. Though, if you want to evolve certain Pokemon it kind of is. After the introduction of PvP, we had a special raid weekend and a holiday event to end the year.
As you can see Niantic worked hard to keep players busy throughout 2018. Hopefully, this development pace works well for them and they can keep it up throughout 2019 as well. Of course, if all goes well they will also be releasing a Harry Potter game similar to Pokemon Go. This may end up hurting their bottom line. But only time will tell. As for last year, they had a great year.