From queer representation to billions in revenue, Pokémon GO has redefined gaming
Yes, it’s been five years since Pokémon GO first hit our phones and forced us all outside to hunt for monsters in the real world.
Remember when the game was initially so popular the servers were constantly crashing and it was impossible to play? It’s certainly come a long way since then.
The expanded Pokédex, raid battles, mega evolutions, special events, and most recently a real-time sky mechanic – Pokémon GO has been tweaked and prodded into a hugely popular experience.
And that’s not to mention the influence it’s had on other franchises: Harry Potter Wizards Unite was a flop by comparison, and The Witcher: Monster Slayer is on its way later this month.
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the game, Niantic has created a celebration event featuring a flying Pikachu from 6 July until 15 July.
Other Pokémon will also be seen more regularly, with daily bonus Field Research tasks leading to them.
For a full list, check out Niantic’s latest blog. That’s in addition to celebratory fireworks on the map.
The latest data from Sensor Tower Store Intelligence shows the game has now surpassed $5 billion in player spending.
That means Pokémon GO has averaged $1 billion of spending each year. Its record year was 2020 in which $1.3 billion was spent globally – so far 2021 is at half that amount.
It proves that there’s still plenty of life yet in the mobile AR game with it being more popular than ever.
Gamers have been sharing their celebrations and favourite memories of the game from the past five years.
When Pokémon GO came out I had a Windows phone (LOL) and couldn't participate in the hype. I still decided to start playing in 2017 and never looked back! I can't wait to visit more places and catch more cute 'mons ✨ Happy birthday, PoGO 🥰 https://t.co/SEr0GdhPGy
— ☕️ ELA (@TheCafeEla) July 5, 2021
Thank you for the wonderful years Pokémon Go! Lots of great memories traveling and playing this game ☺️❤️ https://t.co/01GeBboG4X
— Stardancer ✨ (@heystardancer) July 6, 2021
Wow. 5 years. How different life was. I was a teacher going through a total mental breakdown, depression and anxiety. PoGo was the only thing keeping me going. There have been ups and downs, happiness and frustration, but it was all worth to have met the people I have ❤️ https://t.co/WhSzHn10kn
— Cenzo87 (@Cenzo87_) July 5, 2021
Happy 5th Anniversary Pogo, I wish I had continued with playing, instead of giving up after a month only to start again nearly a year later. I'd be lost without this game in my life it has done wonders for ny mental health 😁 https://t.co/KXSC30frsP
— Tazstar84 (@Tazstar84) July 5, 2021
Here's to 5 Years of community, creation and exploration! ❤️ Who honestly would have thought this game would have us forging friendships that will likely last a lifetime? Here's to 5 more, happy Anniversary #PokemonGO 🥳 pic.twitter.com/1m42HOkK3q
— ZoëTwoDots 🎀 (@_ZoeTwoDots) July 5, 2021
POKÉMON GO IS NOW 5 YEARS OLD😳
I’ll never forget what this fkn game did to people that summer LOL.
Mfers running across highways, walking into churches for PokeStops, Massive stampedes for Legendaries etc😂
It felt like this was the moment Pokemon GENUINELY took over the world pic.twitter.com/cSTCVYaGZp
— 🗣GamesCage – Hype Guy (@OnTheDownLoTho) July 5, 2021
Pokémon GO is also notable for including the first non-binary character in the series.
Blanche is the leader of Team Mystic and Nintendo initially avoided using pronouns, though a later blog post used they/them. Fans took this as Blanche being non-binary.
In addition, they wear the colours white, blue and pink, which could represent the trans flag, with Blanche meaning white – the non-binary part of the flag.