MoneyINC Logo
Years of

The History and Profits of Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go's roots date back to 1995 when Pokemon Red and Blue started. Initially, it was a game played on Nintendo Gameboy. Pokemon Go was the second incarnation of three-dimensional online role play, predated Meridan 59. Later, World of Warcraft utilized a similar platform. However, over time it morphed into cartoons as well as countless other types of media. According to Business Insider, the original Pokemon game sold 279 million copies, and merchandise sales topped 2 billion. Since Nintendo enjoyed so much success with the original Pokemon game, the company decided to branch out to Pokemon Go. This augmented reality game allows players to seek out and capture Pokemon in real life. However, it's not the first time Nintendo has used augmented reality. The 3DS and gaming systems that followed allowed players to use the camera feature and take pictures of cards on the screen. It wasn't quite as engaging as working with friends and capturing Pokemon around the globe. Yet, it was a launching point for the wildly popular Pokemon Go. Even though Pokemon has enjoyed a lot of success on the Nintendo platform, The Pokemon Company is a separate entity. They are the ones who developed Pokemon Go, not Nintendo. Pokemon Go went public during the Super Bowl in 2016, coinciding with the twentieth anniversary of the original Pokemon game. John Hanke developed the first Pokemon and later the Niantic version, Pokemon Go.

History and Evolution of Pokemon Go

Hanke's collaboration with Niantic started in 2001 when Keyhole, a startup funded by Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital division. One of Keyhole's initial projects was Google Earth. Hanke worked with Niantic, a division of Google, in 2010 on a project to use technology to teach people a bit of history using technology and geo-locations. The initial project was Field Trip, also the data used later for Pokemon Go. After this project, Google and Niantic moved onto Ingress, which uses similar technology as Pokemon Go but is much less sophisticated. Pokemon Go started taking shape in April 2014, when Google Maps set up the Pokemon challenge, allowing players to catch the creatures around the globe. The company even offered a reward, a set of Pokemon master business cards, to the people who caught all Pokemon Cards. Niantic separated from Google in 2015, the same time Hanke began to develop Pokemon Go. His goal was to get gamers into the real world and exercise and socialize while having fun. Now, six years later, Niantic is enjoying stratospheric profits from the game.


Pokemon Go's parent company wasn't really on the map, even though they were part of tech giant Google before the release. Their initial release, Ingress, saw some users and a small cult following but never took off. Throughout its history, Niantic Labs has worked within location-based technology, releasing games utilizing geo-caching and location-based technology. In 2015, the company's evaluation was 150 million. However, after the release of Pokemon Go, it was 3.65 billion and rose to 4 billion in 2019. Several years after releasing Pokemon Go, Niantic released Harry Potter Wizarding World, similar to Pokemon, where users seek out magical elements and other items corresponding with the popular series.

Growth and revenue

After Pokemon Go dropped in 2016, it made 207 million dollars in the first month. According to Business of Apps, it was the top download globally and made 100 million dollars in twenty days. One of the reasons for the massive surge in profits during the last days of the first month is that the game didn't release in Japan until two weeks after it was available in the United States. Once the game hit large profits, it plateaued. After the first several months, it seemed the game might be a passing trend. During its hay day, Pokemon Go added 250 million users each month. However, by December 2016, the number dropped to 50 million. Yet, those numbers started to see another upswing in 2020. Pokemon Go's usage started increasing in 2019 when it exceeded a billion downloads bringing the total downloads to 1 billion. Even though the total number of players is 150 million people, it's still lower than the initial 233 million players who started playing after the initial release.

By the numbers

The United States is responsible for 19 percent of Pokemon Go downloads, followed by Brazil with 6 percent and India with 6 percent. The United States is also the continent that contributes the most revenue to the game, 335 million or 38 percent. Japan is the second-highest contributor with 286 million or 32 percent, and Germany is a solid third with 54 million. Over half the players download the game from Google play accounting for 482 million dollars in profit, with Apple downloads at 412 million. Each day the game grosses 4 million dollars worldwide.

A few facts

Hanke hoped Pokemon Go would get people moving while enjoying a fun game, and it certainly has. Undoubtedly one of the reasons for the resurgence in downloads and growth is that people needed a new hobby to get them out of the house during the pandemic. The first week after Pokemon Go was released, Nintendo's stock rose substantially; iPhones contributed almost 1.6 million dollars a day. Earlier incarnations of Pokemon Go also rose 100 percent across the board, and Pokemon sales increased 200 percent. Additionally, during the first several weeks after the game dropped, Pokemon Go topped Google searches globally.

Final Words

Since Pokemon Go started, people have walked so much to catch Pokemon, their steps would reach the end of the Solar System. As Lisa Su said, "gaming brings people together." With Pokemon Go, that's certainly been the case. Even though there haven't been any live events lately, forums on Facebook are still highly active, and more people are connecting over their love for the game. Undoubtedly, more people will continue to discover Pokemon Go each day, adding to the large group of players.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

Related Articles

Stay ahead of the curve with our most recent guides and articles on , freshly curated by our diligent editorial team for your immediate perusal.
As featured on:

Wealth Insight!
Subscribe to our Exclusive Newsletter

Dive into the world of wealth and extravagance with Money Inc! Discover stock tips, businesses, luxury items, and travel experiences curated for the affluent observer.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram