With much anticipation, Pokémon GO's first major update—introducing "Gen 2" creatures—went live on Thursday, February 16 and so far, average daily iOS revenue has lagged behind previous in-game events.
According to Sensor Tower's Store Intelligence data, iOS players worldwide spent an average of $1.6 million per day in the game between February 21 and 25, which trails behind the average daily revenue of both the Halloween and Christmas/New Year's in-game events. At the same time, this was higher than that of the Valentine's event, which ended the day before the update launched, as well as the "thanks giving" event held around Thanksgiving.
As shown in the chart above, Pokémon GO's Halloween event generated $2.3 million of average daily player spend worldwide, followed by $2 million during the Holiday 2016 event. 2017's first in-game event, leading into Valentine's Day, was its poorest-performing so far, generating $700,000 of average daily revenue worldwide on the App Store.
Not only have players been spending less per day on average since the update compared to the Halloween and Christmas/New Year's events, but the app was also No. 1 grossing on iPhone in fewer countries when compared to those events. Sensor Tower App Intelligence shows that within the first few days of the update's availability, Pokémon GO was the No. 1 grossing iPhone app in 11 countries. By comparison, the Halloween event drove Pokémon GO to No. 1 in iPhone revenue in 27 countries, followed by the Holiday 2016 event, when it was the top grossing iPhone app in 19 countries.
Lower player spending indicates not only less revenue for Niantic, but also less player engagement. Prior to its release, the Gen 2 update had been talked about for months as an opportunity to increase Pokémon GO's usage and thus revenue potential.
Now that the update has arrived, the smaller than expected boost to revenue could indicate that more content alone isn't enough, and that new gameplay features—such as trading and player-versus-player battling, which are still missing after several events and updates—may be what's needed to renew interest for players who've grown tired of simply "catching them all".
The timing is problematic too. The update released in February, which is still winter time in the U.S. and the cold weather probably isn't helping to motivate players in the game's biggest revenue market to go outside and catch new Pokémon.
Speaking of the U.S., it is noteworthy that Pokémon GO regained its standing as the No. 1 grossing iPhone app in the U.S. for three straight days last week.
This was the first time that Pokémon GO held this position since early January. The last time the game topped the U.S. App Store's revenue ranking for more than three straight days was during the Halloween event last October.
The U.S. is Pokémon GO's biggest revenue source, generating approximately 40 percent of all-time player spend. However, while the game topped the U.S. App Store revenue chart for more than two months straight after it launched, Pokémon GO has seen its revenue outside of special events declining since last fall, as shown on the graph below.
$1.6 million is still a significant amount of daily revenue, but the downward trend in revenue certainly isn't ideal for Niantic. Aside from simply releasing new Pokémon, Niantic clearly needs to do more in future updates to correct this trend.
The good news is that Niantic CEO John Hanke recently confirmed that real time player battles, Pokémon trading, and live events are all coming to Pokémon GO (albeit with no firm dates attached to any of them). And with the arrival of spring and summer around the corner, it will be interesting to see if players' engagement with the new features in warmer weather will translate into increased revenue.