Remember Pokémon Go?
Sure, you do. The augmented-reality game became a blockbuster over the summer, as millions downloaded it in order to chase digital creatures through real-life neighborhoods. Even if you didn’t play the game (or couldn’t pick a Pokémon out of a lineup), you may have noticed the zombie-like hordes of people moving through public parks, staring at their phones as they followed the onscreen directions to their next beast or challenge.
But all good things come to an end, and Pokémon Go’s dominance has proven no exception: as a recent graph on Recode demonstrates, downloads and usage has dropped off precipitously since September.
Those declines haven’t led Niantic Labs, which created the game, to abandon its cash cow: to the contrary, the company has issued a regular stream of updates and bug fixes, along with seasonal events. According to App Annie (as reported by Recode), the game’s daily revenue even increased around its Halloween promotion.
Despite its outsized success, Pokémon Go’s lifecycle isn’t anomalous by any means. Earlier this year, App Annie reported that the average time to maturity for new games was just over 17 weeks, down considerably from a few years ago. In mid-2015, Adobe also released data suggesting that the average app fades from the marketplace after roughly six months.
Of course, you don’t need top-level data to figure out that the world’s app marketplaces are vicious: just ask app developers, who face considerable challenges when trying to build and maintain an audience for their products. Developers know that most users will stop using the app within two or three months. They also know that new methods of user retention, such as subscriptions, won’t necessarily stop those declines.
Although dealing with apps’ shortening lifespans and ample competition is a challenge that won’t go away anytime soon, at least developers can take cold comfort in one fact: even the world’s biggest games experience the similar falloffs in usage.