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‘Pokémon Go’ Is Hurting Because of the Weather

This is a hot take

Getty Images
Getty Images

Nothing good lasts, and such may be the case with Pokémon Go. Last month, the game completely destroyed the App Store and made us prisoners to our phones. But it looks like we have reached our Pokémon peak, and now comes the fall. According to new data, Pokémon Go has lost some 15 million daily active users over the past month.

This decline could have come at the hand of many things. The app is buggy and users may have finally seen their last Google account login screen before giving up. Maybe some people, after catching their millionth Pidgey — without so much as a hint of a Snorlax in sight — quit. I’m certain at least a few users weren’t willing to sacrifice a data overage.

But I have another theory — a simpler theory. The culprit of Pokémon’s Go’s swift fall is … weather.

Hear me out. When the weather is good, you want to go outside. The idea of crisscrossing through town, catching ’em all is appealing when the sun is gently warming your face and the gentlest of breezes is caressing your skin. You exist in that perfect space between goosebumps and sweat. A mere few degrees can change everything.

July is a warm month, yes. August, though, is a hot one. To quantify this, I attempted to find the most popular cities for Pokémon Go. (It wasn’t easy.) After many attempts to find data on what cities were playing the most, I found this Tripping.com feature on the 10 best places to play the game. Anecdotally, large cities have been well-known for their Pokémon popularity, suburbs have not, and the Midwest and rural areas have been labeled Pokémon wastelands.

Armed with this assumption, I took the list and the new data on Pokémon Go engagement over the past month, and cross-checked it against Weather Underground’s historical weather data. And guess what? It definitely got hotter as app engagement did the opposite.

Bloomberg
Bloomberg
Weather Underground
Weather Underground

(The Tripping.com list didn’t include specific cities for Florida and Hawaii, but I chose Miami and Honolulu, respectively.)

With a couple of exceptions, the temperature rose during the beginning and depths of the slump. I believe those few extra degrees — coupled with, you know, the app losing some early allure — caused use to plummet.

Perhaps you’re thinking that some cooler weather in the fall might cause downloads and engagement to skyrocket. But remember rain? Have you ever tried to use your phone in the rain? It’s terrible.

If anyone wants to argue that you can play the game inside a mall, allow me to ask: Have you been to a mall? Malls are terrible.

There are few places where the weather will be consistent enough for year-round Pokémon Go use. Maybe the game will become a seasonal treat, one we break out along with our cutoff shorts and iced coffees. Or maybe everyone just got bored of catching nothing but Sandshrews.