Pokémon GO has launched with a perfect storm of success. Established and beloved franchise. Free to play app. Easy to use. Built in social integration. The augmented reality game has been a massive success in users since launching last week in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. Nintendo’s shares have rocketed by 25%, with an estimated market value increase of $9 billion.

On Android phones Pokémon GO is installed on more than 5% of all phones in the US (more than Tinder) and has an average play time of 43 minutes (more than Instagram). It’s closing in on Twitter for daily active users. The app isn’t even available in Japan or Europe yet.

pokemon goSince the game is free to play, its market penetration does not equal soaring profits for Nintendo. Nintendo is also not the sole owner of Pokémon GO. The Japanese company owns a third of the Pokémon Company and partnered with Niantic to create the app.

The app is monetized through purchasing additional in-game items, such as pokéballs and pokémon-luring incense. Traveling to a pokéstop rewards you with some random items. If you happen to live or work near fountains, statues, plazas, churches or other notable areas, you can frequently grab free items.

Launching the app in the United States on July 5 destroyed the servers, which the app requires to function. Niantic Labs and Nintendo opted to delay the rollout in other countries to address server issues. “We thought the game would be popular, but it obviously struck a nerve,” says John Hanke, Niantic CEO. Pokémon GO is expected to launch globally in a few days. If it’s anything like the US response, expect the world to fall in love with Pokémon all over again.

Eric Watson

Eric Watson

Eric has been writing for over five years with bylines in Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer and Tabletop Gaming magazine, covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on YouTube. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.