We know a lot of things about mobile games here at Gamezebo, but even we don’t know exactly how much money Pokemon GO made Niantic in 2016. Prior to this month, we would have simply noted that for a while last summer, it was a phenomenon the likes of which the industry has rarely seen and just figured that the answer was A Lot™.
Yet even if the exact dollar amounts that Pokemon GO hauled in are a mystery, its impact can be measured, or at least put into perspective. That comes from App Annie’s recently released list of the top 52 app publishers for 2016, something the firm does every year (with a cool playing card motif, to boot).
The rankings are compiled by taking into account the combined iOS App Store and Google Play Store revenue for all apps published by a company over an entire calendar year. It counts paid downloads and IAPs but pretty much nothing else, so this is as pure a top 52 list as is possible.
A quick glance at the 2016 list finds Niantic in tenth place, third-best among U.S. companies behind MZ (formerly Machine Zone, of Game of War and Mobile Strike fame) and Activision Blizzard (needing no introduction). That’s not that remarkable on its own.
Now consider that Niantic has never even made the top 52 before last year and that it only has three published apps: Pokemon GO, its previous augmented reality game Ingress and an app called Field Trip. With all due respect to the people who put the other apps together, Niantic was able to become a top-10 publisher in less than half a year (remember, Pokemon GO didn’t launch until July 6) solely off the success and revenue generated by a single game.
Keep in mind, too, that people started fading away from Pokemon GO once the faddish part of the launch wore off and the weather started to turn colder. It’s still a popular game by many measures — and it’s definitely enjoyed a surge of interest of late thanks to the addition of dozens more Pokemon — but App Annie’s list just proves how insane those summer months must have been for making Niantic money.
You probably didn’t even realize you were assisting with the rise of a mobile games empire the first time you bought those Pokecoins. The question now is how long it will last. Good thing nicer weather is just around the corner.