HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — If you thought the mobile location-based game Pokémon Go was something left in 2016, you may want to think again.
Niantic’s Pokémon Go made headlines back in 2016, with a mix of hype about the game and the trouble users were getting into while playing.
During the first quarter post-release, the game was downloaded 500 million times. Over its lifetime, the game has reached one billion downloads.
While the usage did slow down in the years following its release, data compiled by Safe Betting Sites, showed that 2020 was the game’s most profitable year.
Those who have been loyal to the game were joined by a new wave of players last year and it may be thanks to the pandemic.
Mobile games were a saving grace to many who were spending more time at home and looking for a way to pass the time.
The game saw 120 million new downloads in 2020. That’s an additional 5 million compared to 2019.
It wasn’t just the downloads that increased, player spending surged 40%, making the game a total of $923 million.
Throughout the years the game has added new features, some of which require users to pay for, but the overall game is free to play.
While this data is representative of a worldwide player population, in the Rio Grande Valley residents continue to enjoy the game. Even though some have been loyal Pokémon trainers, they say the pandemic did cause them to play more.
Edinburg resident, Patt Hinojosa, 28, said that she has been a fan of the Pokémon franchise since she was young and began playing Pokémon Go when it first came out.
“It takes me back to my childhood,” said Hinojosa. “I originally started playing Pokémon Go when it first came out in 2016.”
Hinojosa’s usage did stop for a few years, but she started back up in 2019.
“The year before [the pandemic] I started playing it again and then when COVID hit, I really started playing it more,” she said.
Whereas she would usually only allocate about an hour a day to the game, Hinojosa said that her usage during the pandemic doubled, as she was able to play at home and out in the community.
In the game, users are encouraged to find ‘poke stopes’ out in the community to get their items. Gyms, where users battle their Pokémon, are also found out in the community and used to only be accessible if you were near one.
However, during the pandemic, the game added a feature where you could access these gyms from home.
This feature contributed to a lot of players feeling they could enjoy the game from the safety of their home.
Large communities of players also exist online. A Facebook group dedicated to the game has over 7,000 members in the Rio Grande Valley.
“I am a part of really intense groups that now have like 100 or more people, so we all raid together, and we all coordinate to do battles and other cool stuff,” said Hinojosa.
While the initial game model of going out and playing in the community had to be modified during the pandemic, Hinojosa believes the game is as enjoyable as ever.
“Just get out and try the game, see if you like it,” said Hinojosa.