Since its release in early July, Pokémon Go has shaken up the mobile-app world. Millions of people rushed to play the game, which could earn billions of dollars in micro-transactions over the next year.
Within the tech community, the game also renewed some developers’ faith in augmented reality, which layers a user’s environment with holograms visible only through a lens or screen. In order to play Pokémon Go, players must walk around the real world, trying to capture creatures that appear on their smartphones. The willingness of millions of people to spend hours chasing digital phantoms suggests that, with the right combination of branding and design, other augmented-reality apps will find an enthusiastic audience.
But will Pokémon Go sustain its enviable numbers? A new analysis by Axiom Capital Management (as reported by Bloomberg) offers some troubling signs for the game. Visualized data from SurveyMonkey, Apptopia, and other sources shows downloads, engagement, and daily active users on the decline. Take a look at one graph:
That, in turn, could have an impact on augmented reality. “The Google Trends data is already showing declining interest in augmented reality, whereas interest in virtual reality remains high,” Axiom senior analyst Victor Anthony wrote.
Of course, augmented reality is still too new a concept for anyone to give an accurate prediction about its longer-term trend-line. One could argue that, after such stratospheric success in its first weeks, Pokémon Go engagement had no choice but to level off; it may take months to determine whether the game can really sustain an audience for the long term.
Then again, just-released mobile apps generally have only a few weeks before reaching “maturity.” In order to counter any downtrend in engagement, developers resort to updates with all sorts of new features—but even then, pushing another product out the door is the surest way of maintaining a company’s overall downloads and revenue in an environment in which individual apps fade all too quickly.
For app-builders, that also means structuring your rollout and marketing campaign so you make as big an impact as possible, as soon as possible. The alternative of slowly building an audience is difficult (but not necessarily impossible) to pull off these days.