Pokemon Go came out last week and has pretty much taken over the world. It’s more popular than hooking up with strangers or screaming at people on the internet, it’s distracting people from their jobs, and all of that is because it’s free. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean Nintendo isn’t raking in cash hand over fist.
Pokemon Go is not, unlike most free-to-play games, out to bilk you slowly out of cash. It’s very easy to find the basic items you need, eggs and Pokemon are abundant, and it isn’t festooned with ads. As long as you keep capturing every Pokemon you find, you’ll easily be able to compete in the game and have fun doing it. But that’s not stopping people from shelling out the cash, as Quartz found Pokemon Go is raking in $1.6 million a day just from iOS users in America. In fact, it became the top-grossing game on Apple’s app store within hours of its debut.
Keep in mind that iOS isn’t the market share leader. That would be Android with 83 percent of the market in smartphones. Assuming these numbers hold, as only a small percentage of gamers make in-app purchases, that would mean Nintendo is bringing in easily $10 million a day just from the US. No wonder the company’s stock skyrocketed once Go came out.
Part of that is, of course, savvy business using “lures” to bring in gamers. Ten dollars is an extravagant price for a single gamer, but for a restaurant, it’s cheap, effective marketing. And it’s not clear if this will continue as the game expands to other countries and new mobile games come along to distract people. But for right now, Nintendo is catching a lot of cash.