Pokémon is arguably the biggest gaming franchise on the planet. Since the original release of Pokémon Red and Green in 1996, the franchise has expanded to over 122 games on multiple platforms, 24 films, a wildly successful anime, and countless items of merchandise.
With that in mind, a game leveraging the unique aspects of mobile gaming to let people catch Pokémon in the real world was perhaps inevitable, and since its release in 2016 Pokémon Go has become a worldwide phenomenon. However, it appears that this success isn’t enough for developer Niantic, who are aiming for a tenfold increase in monthly active users (MAU) over the next three to five years.
India is one of the world’s foremost mobile gaming markets, with users and developers throughout the country taking advantage of the platform’s affordability and accessibility to break into the gaming market. However, Pokémon Go has space for improvement within the country.
“That's going to take a significant investment, but it’s one that we're committed to," said Niantic vice president of emerging markets Omar Tellez, speaking to Economic Times India.
To be the very best
At present, India doesn’t sit within the top ten markets for Pokémon Go, but Niantic expects that significant investment and localisation can see the game enter the top five over the next 3-5 years. Alongside the existing efforts to release a Hindi version of the game, the company aims to make the title available in the country’s six most spoken languages over the next two years.
Other efforts to boost the game’s profile in India have included in-game events to celebrate the Hindu festivals Holi and Diwali, which first launched in 2021, and special pricing bundles for in-game items to increase affordability in the Indian market.
Additionally, the company has added around a million Pokéstops over the past year, with plans to add another four million over the next twelve months.
“We want to make sure that everybody goes out and has an experience that at least has five Pokéstops within a one-mile radius,” said Tellez.
So why is Niantic aiming so hard for success in India? While the country is one of the world’s biggest mobile gaming markets, it’s worth noting that Pokémon Go has been banned in the number one market, China, since 2017, thereby cutting a significant source of both downloads and revenue out of the equation. While the game has undoubtedly propelled Niantic to a lofty position at the peak of the mobile gaming industry, it’s clear that the company is aiming to climb even higher, and focusing on one of the world’s biggest gaming markets may well see them achieve this goal.
We listed Niantic as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2023.