Entertainment

From queer representation to billions in revenue, Pokémon GO has redefined gaming

Ed Nightingale July 6, 2021
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Pokémon GO

Pokémon GO. (Niantic)

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.

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.

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Related topics: nintendo, Pokemon

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