Pokémon Go is breaking records despite coronavirus limitations

You’d think that a video game predicated on getting out there and going places might take a nosedive in 2020, when coronavirus is forcing the world to stay indoors and socially distance, but no. According to a new report, Pokémon Go is doing incredibly well right now.

Mobile app tracker Sensor Tower said Monday that players have spent more in Pokémon Go (an estimate $445 million) in the first half of 2020 than in the same timeframe in previous years — including the game’s first year, when Pokémon Go basically took over the world.

How is this possible? Niantic did not respond in time for press, but since Polygon has some avid players in its ranks, as well as friends who love the game, we have some theories.

The first thing worth noting is that Niantic has done its best to make the game easier to play while at home — you can now earn coins by completing daily tasks, for example. Raids can now be done remotely, while new events are also doable from the comfort of your couch. The annual big Pokémon Go Fest bash is also an online-only event this year.

Niantic has also added more paid microtransactions to Pokémon Go. In addition to in-game purchases of items of convenience like Incubators and Remote Raid Passes, 2020 has already seen multiple paid events, including three Safari Zones and Special Research story events for legendary Pokémon like Genesect and Community Days for Seedot and Abra. 2020 has given players more flexibility, but also more ways to spend money.

Also, while COVID-19 requires keeping a safe distance from other people, folks are still going outside just for the sake of maintaining sanity or getting some exercise. With added reason to do daily walks, anecdotally, we’ve seen some players pick up the game in the midst of coronavirus to make those strolls more interesting.

Perhaps these record-breaking months shouldn’t be surprising; prior to 2020, Pokémon Go had its best year ever in 2019. Apparently, even coronavirus wasn’t enough to stop that momentum.

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