Pokémon GO demographics: The evolving player mix of a smash-hit game

By Mike Sonders

Pokémon GO usage statistics have been staggering, even as Pokémon GO revenue and retention have declined.

The game has been distinctive not only in its adoption rates, but in its design: its augmented-reality collection mechanics defy easy comparison to other top games.

Who are all of the people playing this unique game? Has the player mix been changing since the game’s initial, explosive launch? And do the players resemble the players of any of the other most-used mobile games on the market?

Using demographic insights on the U.S. smartphone app market from SurveyMonkey Intelligence, we’re taking a deep look at Pokémon GO demographics to answer these questions and more, including: What does Pokémon GO’s audience look like in the future?

Pokémon GO player demographics in its first month

A couple of weeks after Pokémon GO’s initial launch on July 6, the game’s average player demographic was characterized by a 25-year-old white woman with a college degree making about $90,000 per year.

That’s not to say that 25-year-olds making $90,000 were the typical Pokémon GO player. The median income for Pokémon GO players was probably lower than $90k, but a few outliers with very high incomes likely skewed the income average, as you can see in the income distribution in the infographic from July, below.

Data: SurveyMonkey Intelligence. Graphic: Nick DeSantis/Forbes.

Most notably In late July, most Pokémon GO players (63%) were women.

Pokémon GO demographics changed quite a bit over three months

Looking only at the average player persona again three months later, things don’t look dramatically different.

The average level of education and income has dropped a bit, but the average player is still a white 25-year-old woman.

But if we dig into the data, Pokémon GO demographics in the U.S. a couple of weeks after the game’s launch look quite different from its demographics today.

Gender

Pokémon GO’s audience in the U.S. is no longer dominated by women.

The share of players represented by women has dropped from 63% to 53% over a few months. That’s much closer to the distribution of men and women across all smartphones in the U.S. (and to the distribution of the U.S. population as a whole).

Pokémon GO’s players are now quite similar to those of slither.io, in that they’re almost equally split between the two genders that we track.

Age

While most Pokémon GO players are still younger than 30 years old, the audience has shifted slightly older over the past few months.

Notably, people aged 30–49 now represent 30% of all players, versus the previous level of ~25%.

Pokémon GO is most similar to slither.io and Clash of Clans in their player age distribution, skewing younger than games like Words with Friends and Candy Crush and dominated by people in the 18–29 age bracket.

Income

The average income of Pokémon GO players has dropped over time as a smaller proportion of its audience claims incomes higher than $100 thousand per year.

This puts Pokémon GO on equal footing with Clash of Clans in terms of user income distribution.

Ethnicity

Most Pokémon GO players are white, but that simply reflects the racial mix of all U.S. smartphone users.

What does stand out from the data is that

  1. African Americans are underrepresented among Pokémon GO players (9%) relative to their representation among the U.S. population (~12.3% as of the 2012 census)
  2. Hispanic Americans are slightly overrepresented among Pokemon GO players (19%) relative to their representation in the U.S. population (~17% as of the 2012 census).

For yet another demographic marker (user racial mix), Pokémon GO is once again most like slither.io.

Location

What’s striking about the geographic distribution of Pokémon GO players is that it almost exactly matches the geographic distribution of the U.S. population.

In this respect, the game is truly becoming a nationwide phenomenon; all regions are adopting it at equal rates.

None of the other big hit games have this evenly-distributed adoption across the country.

On the other hand, all of these games–including Pokémon GO–have disproportionately been adopted in urban areas (in the U.S. Census definition of the word).

The actual U.S. population is ~80% urban as of 2012; 88% of Pokémon GO players are in urban locations.

Propensity to use other apps

Unsurprisingly, Pokémon GO players are more likely than average U.S. smartphone users to use Pokémon GO utility apps like PokeAlert, Go Radar, and Poke Radar.

What is notable is that those Pokémon GO utility apps are dominated by men. On a related note, users of the Crunchyroll app–an anime video app at #11 on the list–are also mostly men.

This could indicate that the dedicated core audience of Pokémon GO (and of Pokemon and of anime in general) is mostly comprised of men.

Further, Pokémon GO players are more likely than average to play a litany of “core” video game apps that are largely used by men (as verified by SurveyMonkey Intelligence data): Destiny Companion, Bloons TD Battles, Plague Inc., Clash Royale, Steam Mobile, Xbox, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and Twitch.

Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the gender composition of Pokémon GO’s audience to continue to shift in favor of men over time, eventually having a male-majority.

Conclusion

Pokémon GO isn’t like other games, but its players are like other games’ players

While it’s difficult in the current mobile game market to find similar games to Pokémon GO in terms of mechanics, it’s not difficult to find players of other top games that resemble Pokémon GO’s.

Slither.io in particular has player demographics that resemble Pokémon GO’s in terms of gender, age, race, and location mix. Even Clash of Clans shares several player demographic qualities with Pokémon GO.

This is substantiated by the data, which shows that plenty of slither.io and Clash of Clans players actually play Pokémon GO, as well:

(Much lower percentages of Words with Friends and Candy Crush players also use Pokémon GO; 18% and 13%, respectively.)

Pokémon GO demographics have shifted and will continue to shift… especially gender mix

Pokémon GO started as a game dominated by women. Over a few short months, as its early adopters have departed, the proportion of its players comprised by women has gone from 63% to 53%.

Based on data indicating that (1) the core, passionate audience of Pokémon GO (and of Pokémon and of anime in general) is mostly made up of men, and (2) Pokémon GO players are more likely than average to also play “core” video game apps typically dominated by men, it’s expected that the game’s player mix will continue to see men claim a higher percentage of representation… and perhaps an eventual majority.

This post originally appeared on October 14, 2016 on the blog of SurveyMonkey Intelligence, a provider of competitive intelligence for the mobile app industry.

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