Pokémon GO had its best year ever, earns $894 million in 2019

Pokémon GO, which was released in 2016, defied the odds and exceeded its revenue from its launch year with earnings of nearly $900 million in 2019.

The location-based mobile game made $894 million in 2019, according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, which was more than the earnings of $832 million when Pokémon GO took the world by storm in 2016. It is a rare feat for a free-to-play game to make more money at a later year after launch, as most fail to keep players’ interests over time.

In 2017, Pokémon GO made $589 million, still a hefty amount but much lower compared to the previous year. This may be attributed to issues such as hardcore players trespassing and causing accidents, as well as the failure of Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago’s Grant Park in July 2017 that resulted in a class-action lawsuit.

The game recovered in 2018, making $816 million, before marking its best year ever in 2019.

Sensor Tower attributed much of Pokémon GO‘s growth to the launch of in-game events, improvements to real-world events, and significant updates that keep on adding content to the mobile game. The report mentioned the introduction of Team Rocket at the end of July 2019, which resulted in the game’s fourth- and fifth-best months ever with revenue of $116 million and $126 million in August 2019 and September 2019, respectively.

In comparison, the best months of Pokémon GO were the first three months since its 2016 launch, with $256 million in July, $195 million in August, and $141 million in September.

Sensor Tower revealed that most of Pokémon GO‘s revenue in 2019 was from the United States, where it made 38% of its earnings, or $335 million. Japan came in second at 32%, or $286 million, followed by Germany in third at 6%, or $54 million.

Niantic Labs is estimated to have made more than $3.1 billion from Pokémon GO, and while the developer does not keep all of it as it is in a revenue-sharing agreement with The Pokémon Company, in which Nintendo owns a significant stake, it is still a massive haul.

It remains to be seen what Niantic Labs has in store for Pokémon GO in 2020, but fans are likely looking forward to many years of catching Pokémon in augmented reality.

More Animal Crossing: New Horizons details revealed in Nintendo Direct

After a quiet lull, Nintendo revealed a swatch of new details about Animal Crossing: New Horizons in its latest Direct presentation. The 25-minute video unveiled new customization tools and confirmed the return of several familiar features and faces.

The Deep Dive Into Deserted Life livestream made it clear that New Horizons won’t be a departure for the series. Several staples of the franchise made an appearance in the presentation, including buildings like Nook’s Cranny, Able Sisters, and the Museum.

Previously, Nintendo only detailed Resident Services, where players can craft items. The Direct gave more details about its function, showing how it can be used to customize furniture with hand-made designs and make changes to houses once players upgrade their tent. When Resident Services expands, it will allow players to build bridges and slopes around town through a Construction Consultant feature.

The building will be home to fan-favorite Isabelle, who will return for the game.

Other new customization features will allow players to alter an island’s terrain, letting them add or remove cliffs and rivers via an Island Designer App in the game’s Nook Phone. The app will also allow players to freely pave paths around their island once unlocked.

Home decoration receives a slight overhaul, allowing players to select and move multiple pieces of furniture at once.

A big part of Animal Crossing’s appeal is its online and local multiplayer modes, which are handled through an island’s airport for New Horizons. Among the new features is Party Play, which allows four of one island’s residents to play together on one Switch. Online play will feature a restriction that prevents players from using axes and shovels on the island unless they are designated as a “Best Friend.”

Regular free updates are planned for the game, which will bring seasonal events. The first will be available on launch day, bringing a Bunny Day event to the game. So far, Nintendo only revealed that free updates will include more events, something that’s always come baked into the game, and further amiibo support. Beyond the updated content, the game features regular seasonal activities and recurring events such as fishing tournaments and bug-offs.

New Horizons will utilize the Nintendo Online app with a Nook Link tool. In addition to providing communication options via voice or text, the app will allow players to scan QR codes from Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Happy Home Designer and import custom designs into New Horizons.

Amiibo support returns to the series, letting players invite villagers to their island through the new Campground building.

While all of the new features are exciting for fans, the Direct did feature one rub. Nintendo touched on the game’s controversial decision not to allow cloud saves, saying that players would only be able to recover lost save data through a service backup in “special cases.” However, players can only retrieve their data once, and they have to be a Nintendo online member. It’s also available “sometimes after launch,” so it won’t be in the game come release day.

The short video is packed with even more details, from bee stings to returning characters like Gulliver and Sahara, giving the sense that New Horizons is a more of a traditional Animal Crossing game than its deserted island setting initially implied. We’ll soon see what else returns to the game when it launches March 20, just after its special-edition Switch arrives.

More Animal Crossing: New Horizons details revealed in Nintendo Direct

After a quiet lull, Nintendo revealed a swatch of new details about Animal Crossing: New Horizons in its latest Direct presentation. The 25-minute video unveiled new customization tools and confirmed the return of several familiar features and faces.

The Deep Dive Into Deserted Life livestream made it clear that New Horizons won’t be a departure for the series. Several staples of the franchise made an appearance in the presentation, including buildings like Nook’s Cranny, Able Sisters, and the Museum.

Previously, Nintendo only detailed Resident Services, where players can craft items. The Direct gave more details about its function, showing how it can be used to customize furniture with hand-made designs and make changes to houses once players upgrade their tent. When Resident Services expands, it will allow players to build bridges and slopes around town through a Construction Consultant feature.

The building will be home to fan-favorite Isabelle, who will return for the game.

Other new customization features will allow players to alter an island’s terrain, letting them add or remove cliffs and rivers via an Island Designer App in the game’s Nook Phone. The app will also allow players to freely pave paths around their island once unlocked.

Home decoration receives a slight overhaul, allowing players to select and move multiple pieces of furniture at once.

A big part of Animal Crossing’s appeal is its online and local multiplayer modes, which are handled through an island’s airport for New Horizons. Among the new features is Party Play, which allows four of one island’s residents to play together on one Switch. Online play will feature a restriction that prevents players from using axes and shovels on the island unless they are designated as a “Best Friend.”

Regular free updates are planned for the game, which will bring seasonal events. The first will be available on launch day, bringing a Bunny Day event to the game. So far, Nintendo only revealed that free updates will include more events, something that’s always come baked into the game, and further amiibo support. Beyond the updated content, the game features regular seasonal activities and recurring events such as fishing tournaments and bug-offs.

New Horizons will utilize the Nintendo Online app with a Nook Link tool. In addition to providing communication options via voice or text, the app will allow players to scan QR codes from Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Happy Home Designer and import custom designs into New Horizons.

Amiibo support returns to the series, letting players invite villagers to their island through the new Campground building.

While all of the new features are exciting for fans, the Direct did feature one rub. Nintendo touched on the game’s controversial decision not to allow cloud saves, saying that players would only be able to recover lost save data through a service backup in “special cases.” However, players can only retrieve their data once, and they have to be a Nintendo online member. It’s also available “sometimes after launch,” so it won’t be in the game come release day.

The short video is packed with even more details, from bee stings to returning characters like Gulliver and Sahara, giving the sense that New Horizons is a more of a traditional Animal Crossing game than its deserted island setting initially implied. We’ll soon see what else returns to the game when it launches March 20, just after its special-edition Switch arrives.

The best Nintendo Switch games (February 2020)

The new year has been good to the Nintendo Switch. The console/handheld hybrid has enjoyed a lofty time on the market already, but a slew of promising ports in the first few months of the year has eased Christmas 2019 adopters into a healthy diet of new titles to enjoy.

Ports of existing gems like To the Moon and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encoure cover two sides of the RPG market, whereas the newly completed Kentucky Route Zero has something for those who like to settle down with a classic point-and-click adventure. Whatever you’re in the market for, we rounded up the best Nintendo Switch games you can find, with just the right amount of context to fuel your next obsession.

Astral Chain

PlatinumGames has established itself as one of the best action game studios in the world, with critical darlings like Bayonetta 2 and the existential Nier: AutomataAutomata lead designer Takahisa Taura was given his first chance to direct with the Switch-exclusive Astral Chain, which doubles down on the insane action that PlatinumGames has prided itself on for the last decade. Rather than the post-apocalypse, you’re in a bustling city that is under attack by mysterious interdimensional forces, and it’s up to you to stop it.

You won’t work alone, however, as Astral Chain pairs the protagonist with several “Legion” characters who can attack in unison. This mix of direct and indirect combat is at the heart of the game, but you will also investigate mysteries and solve puzzles along the way. And you can pet the game’s dog-like Legion, so you know it’s good.

Hotline Miami Collection

One of the most stylish and innovative action games to release in the last decade, the original Hotline Miami was oozing with ’80s Miami Vice flair, but it was its ridiculously tough shooting combat that won players over. With death coming swiftly for both you and your enemies, it demands your full attention, and its bundled with the sequel Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number on Switch. Of course, as you play you will have to ask yourself a tough question: “Do you like hurting other people?”

The Switch itself is also an ideal platform for the game, as its simple control scheme doesn’t need a full-sized controller to be used effectively. All you need are your wits and your attention span, because failing to notice the positions of all the enemies in a building will be your downfall. If that happens at the end of a stage, it’s absolutely devastating, and will give you the angry burst of energy and drive you’ll need to beat it on the next try.

My Friend Pedro

What do you get when you combine the precision-shot action of Hotline Miami, the acrobatics of Trials, and the slow-motion bullet time effect from the Max Payne series? If that formula also includes one sentient banana, then you are either tripping on acid or playing My Friend Pedro. Split across several creative and perplexing levels, your goal is simple: Kill everyone and reach the exit. That’s easier said than done, of course, especially when turrets are locking onto your position to deliver a torrential downpour of bullets.

My Friend Pedro is the perfect game to play in the Switch’s handheld mode, too, because a level typically only takes a few minutes to complete. A surreal story gradually unravels as you progress, and special vehicular sections offer a nice burst of all-out action that differs from the methodical play of the rest of the game.

Enter the Gungeon

Developed by Dodge Roll and published by renowned indie studio Devolver Digital, Enter the Gungeon is one of the Switch’s absolute must-play indie titles. Enter the Gungeon is a challenging dungeon crawler with twitchy shooting mechanics and copious amounts of loot to uncover. It’s also a roguelike, though not in the traditional sense. All rooms stay the same, but the enemies, treasure, and location of the rooms are randomly generated.

Working your way deeper and deeper into the dungeon is a difficult task filled with worthwhile rewards. With great mechanics, entertaining lore, and mysteries to discover in every dark corner, Enter the Gungeon is an enthralling action experience. Although available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, the top-down retro aesthetic feels great when playing in handheld mode on the Nintendo Switch.

Splatoon 2

The original Splatoon reinvented the multiplayer shooter by taking the emphasis off of simply eliminating enemies, and its unique ink-spraying online matches were unlike anything we had ever seen before. The Switch sequel, Splatoon 2, largely sticks to the formula we saw previously, but its inventive new multiplayer maps and weapons make the game even more engaging. The game’s humor is also back in full force, with puns galore and user-created artwork that is both hilarious and terrifying.

For those more interested in playing cooperatively, the Salmon Run mode is a great addition to Splatoon 2. Groups of four players must collect golden eggs while fending off waves of evil Salmonids, and it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. Just make sure all your friends have their own systems, as the game doesn’t support split-screen multiplayer.

Ape Out

Ape Out is a top-down kill fest starring an ape that makes humans explode into a pile of blood-soaked limbs. The latest game from Devolver Digital is simplistic but wonderful. In each of the game’s four chapters, you’re tasked with navigating an ape from captivity to freedom. The road to freedom is paved with gun-wielding guards that will shoot rather than ask questions. Thankfully, you can turn every guard into mush by shoving them, or you can use them as body shields before tossing them aside.

Ape Out maintains an addictive rhythm thanks to its jazzy soundtrack that interacts with what is happening on screen. Snare drums beat continuously, picking up the pace when in danger, and cymbals crash to mark the deaths of enemies. Ape is challenging but never feels unfair. Randomization keeps each successive retry feel as intense as the last.

No new DLC planned for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate beyond second Fighter Pass

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate received a sixth downloadable fighter on January 28and another batch of characters is in the works, but the 2018 release is nearing the end of its life span. Game director Masahiro Sakurai confirmed that the upcoming Fighter Pass Vol. 2 will be Ultimate’s final DLC.

The information comes from Sakurai’s latest column for Famitsu where he outlined the end of Smash’s content plans and said Nintendo isn’t working on the next Super Smash Bros. installment, either. That makes sense considering that there has never been more than one Smash Bros. game per Nintendo system.

The Fighter Pass will feature another six downloadable characters, all of which are chosen by Nintendo, according to Sakurai. All of the new characters will come to the game by January 31, 2021, meaning the game’s life cycle will span three years.

By Nintendo’s standards, three years is a long time for Switch games. Splatoon 2 got regular updates for a year and a half following its release while Arms stopped receiving new content after six months.

Despite the generous timeline, the revelation may make fans wary. With only six characters left, Nintendo only has a few opportunities to grant players’ loftiest wishes. Ultimate’s first fighter pack ended with a whimper when Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ hero Byleth became the game’s 75th character. Many fans were disappointed by the announcement, and Sakurai agreed there are too many sword characters.

Even with the end looming, the final characters won’t spell the end for Nintendo’s hit multiplayer game. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is still a staple of the competitive fighting game circuit, and it shows no signs of slowing down in popularity. It will once again grace EVO’s stage this year, replacing Super Smash Bros. Melee for the second year in a row.

As for the game’s director, Sakurai is free to move on to new projects once Ultimate support ends. In his column, Sakurai notes that he was unable to work on anything else during Smash Bros. development. The last non-Smash project that Sakurai worked on was 2012’s Kid Icarus: Uprising, so hopefully, the beloved director will get a chance to work on something new in 2022.