Nintendo made $3 million in the opening week of Pokemon Quest on mobile devices, according to market intelligence company Sensor Tower. Game Freak first released the new free-to-play Pokemon game for the Nintendo Switch on 29 May, shortly after its reveal. Sensor Tower also estimate that it is a 56/44% split between Apple/Google Play downloads and that 31% of in-game spending is from Japanese users. It’s currently the #1 free app on Japan’s App Store, #2 in South Korea, #18 in the U.S and #12 in Australia. The release of the mobile version is a lot more commercially successful than the Nintendo Switch version. According to Nintendo Japan, only 2.5 million people have downloaded the game on the Switch, while Sensor Tower estimates the mobile downloads to be at around 3.5 million.
The commercial success of Pokemon Quest is not indicative of the critical reception. Pokemon Quest is a ‘free-to-start’ game that involves simple tapping controls, a pixel art styled Kanto region, and base management mechanics. While players can still capture and collect Pokemon, the game sells three sorts of expedition packs for $5 to $18. You can also buy different Power Stones for $3 each. The game consists of exploring various islands on expeditions, collecting materials and ingredients to upgrade a base or cook up a dish, then attracting and catching the Pokemon. This isn’t the most in-depth Pokemon game and critics have panned it as such, with a score of 64 on metacritic.com. Polygon described it as “a wonderful waste of time” while Kotaku left it at saying “it’s fine.”
The quality and success of the game make this title reminiscent of the previous mobile Pokemon game, Pokemon GO. Pokemon GO took the world by storm and became an overnight success for augmented reality and mobile games. Analytics site Newzoo states that Pokemon GO made $470 million in the first 80 days after launch. Currently sitting at 800 million downloads, according to Variety, Pokemon GO not only highlighted the potential of mobile games but also the strength of the Pokemon brand.
While Pokemon Quest wasn’t received well critically and is lacking in content, it is wildly popular and profitable on mobile in the same way Pokemon GO was.