The Pokémon Company opened eyes this week when it announced its latest innovation: Pokémon Sleep.
That’s right, the company that turned walking into a game, through Pokémon GO, is now gamifying sleep. The Pokémon Sleep app will launch in 2020 and be paired with “a new peripheral device from Nintendo, Pokémon GO Plus + will connect to Pokémon Sleep and launch with the app.” The sleep tracker will send information to users’ smartphones via Bluetooth and upload that info to the app.
It’s a compelling move given Pokémon’s unprecedented popularity. It’s also a logical move for Nintendo given their history, merging their hardware experience in the fitness space with the Wii and combining it with the IP of Pokémon to fuel mobile growth.
Pokémon GO Retains its Popularity in 2019
While we all remember the Pokémon GO craze that consumed the summer of 2016, perhaps the most impressive aspect of that app is its staying power. Pokémon GO was rolled out globally in July 2016, and while the game reached its peak average Monthly Active Users (MAUs) in August 2016, it still ranks among the top games in the world in terms of engagement. In 2018, Pokémon GO ranked #8 for top games globally in terms of average combined smartphone MAU. Even in April 2019, it remained the 7th most played game globally during the month. In fact, compared to time spent in the other top 20 games in the US on Android phones, Pokémon GO actually grew its market share in Q1 2019 compared to Q1 2018 by 5 percentage points.
Pokémon GO and Pokémon Sleep Poised for Synergy
So what does this mean for the outlook of Pokémon Sleep? Pokémon Sleep is well positioned to introduce interesting ways for gamers to interact with their health and activity data. We expect that turning a passive activity like sleep into a reward mechanism may lead to increased engagement in related apps, such as Pokémon GO. After all, we found after its launch time spent in Pokémon GO was additive to overall gaming, meaning it didn’t take away time spent in other games, but rather converted non-mobile time into mobile time. While fitness and sleep trackers are not brand new mobile technology, the powerful IP of Pokémon coupled with the gamification of Pokémon GO may breathe life into tangentially related markets and re-energize its core mobile audience.
Pokémon Sleep will be tightly interwoven with the expected upgrade to the Pokémon GO Plus device, which is currently designed primarily for Pokémon GO users. Pokémon Sleep will have an advantage in that it will have access to a sizable gamer base from the moment it hits app stores, but will also face an obstacle in that a user has to purchase a hardware device in order to use it. It will be interesting to see how the GO Plus + device will provide other value beyond the game to entice customers. Nevertheless, Pokémon Sleep should have an immediate impact on hardcore Pokémon GO gamers, and its effects will likely be felt throughout the larger mobile and gaming markets.
To learn more about the state of mobile gaming in 2019, check out our report on the State of Mobile Gaming in 2019: