Pokémon GO could be the gift that keeps on giving.
The hit augmented reality mobile game has already caused a $7.5 billion jump in Nintendo’s stock price. Now researchers at the App Annie analytics firm estimate that it might soon bring in roughly $1 billion a year.
“Even though Pokémon GO is only officially open in three countries, the game is generating well over $1 million of net revenue for Niantic Labs,” App Annie managing director of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa Nicolas Beraudo writes in an email to Inverse. “I can easily envision a run-rate of over $1 billion per year with less server issues, a worldwide presence, and more social and [player vs. player] features.”
And we won’t have to wait long for those social features: Niantic founder John Hanke tells Business Insider that Pokémon trading — a staple of the main series that allows people to swap their adorably dangerous pocket monsters — will be coming in a Pokémon GO update that should debut sooner rather than later.
App Annie says Pokémon GO rose in popularity faster than even Clash Royale, another hit mobile game from the makers of Clash of Clans. It’s a bona fide hit, and whether it’s being played by an American in Iraq or in small-town USA, its rise is unprecedented.
This has led to a cottage industry of everything from people offering to drive phones around to catch Pokémon to armed robbers using the app to lure victims into a trap like real-life Team Rocket members with guns.
Niantic and Nintendo aren’t going to be the only ones making money off of Pokémon GO. But if App Annie is correct in thinking that the game could bring in $1 billion a year — and that doesn’t seem too far-fetched given the current Pokémania — they will certainly be the ones bringing in the most cash.
Who knew letting people catch ‘em all from their phones would be so lucrative?