New Study Estimates Pokémon GO Players Walked over 100 Billion Extra Steps

Photo Credit: kc diamond

We all basically assumed that Pokémon Go was making us healthier, but now there’s a study out there that kind of proves it.

I say “kind of” because even the folks at Microsoft and Stanford, who conducted the study for Microsoft Research, recognized the limitations of their methods.

They essentially tracked user activity through July and August.

But they found their participants by tracking people who searched for Pokémon GO content…

On Bing:

Photo Credit: Justin O

Someone on the research team then decided which of those searches suggested that the person was actually playing the game, based on the content they were searching for.

About 1,420 or 5.6% of those searchers were deemed Poké-GO  players.

That’s actually pretty close to the estimated 5.92% of people in the US reported in mid-July:

Photo Credit: Similar Web

But, to be a participant in the study, you also had to be a daily user of the Microsoft Band:

Photo Credit: Microsoft

So, even though the ~1,400 users matched up pretty close to real-world numbers, they aren’t exactly a random sample:

Photo Credit: Adam Frucci/Gizmodo

Also: less than half of those users (792) had enough data for the study.

And since none of these Microsoft fans knew they were being studied, you might even be one of the participants.

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

Of course, unknowing participation and odd selection methods don’t mean that the people studied didn’t do some serious walking.

In fact, the average Pokémon GO player increased their activity by about 1,473 steps per day – a 25% increase.

If you apply that to all 25 million active players in the US at the time, then Pokémon GO is responsible for 144 billion extra steps.

That’s 2,724 trips around the Earth:

Photo Credit: Giphy

Or 143 round-trips to the moon:

Pokémon GO players actually began less active compared to the control group and other “health app” users, but, eventually, they outperformed the others:

Photo Credit: Microsoft Research

When you consider that almost 65% of the participants in the study were either overweight or obese, those numbers are even more impressive.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Research

If the average participant continued this increased level of activity throughout their lifetime, they’d gain 41.4 days of life expectancy.

That’s a total of 2.825 million years, if you add all 25 million US users.

But that activity started to sharply decline right around the time that the app’s overall use did:

Photo Credit: Apptopia

The app lost about 15 million daily users after it peaked.

But that peak was astronomical, topping users of both Facebook and Twitter.

Did anybody really expect it to last?

Photo Credit: Shirtigo/MDK7

It’s probably safe to assume that 25 million users won’t keep walking 1,400 extra steps per day.

But that doesn’t erase the 144 billion extra steps that were already taken.

And who knows what AR games are still to come?

Maybe Pokémon GO isn’t a thing in a year.

But what if that’s because Harry Potter GO is:


Photo Credit: SE

There’s no evidence to support that, actually.

But what I’m getting at is that Pokémon GO wasn’t the first AR game – it was just the first one to be so big.

Will it be the last?

That is possible.

The Wii kind of peaked at bowling:

Photo Credit: Coburn Dukeheart/NPR

Sure. It stuck around, and the technology was picked up by other consoles.

But nothing came close to the peak.

Of course, even though nothing substantial ever replaced Wii bowling in nursing homes:

Photo Credit: Senior Voice

It was still a pretty significant gaming phenomenon.

And, this summer, something like it happened again:

Photo Credit: Getty

Maybe the next big phenomenon won’t have anything to do with Pokémon GO, which is unlikely to ever see those early numbers again.

(Though the daily user numbers the game still has aren’t anything to cry about.)

But who knows what might happen once Niantic releases updates like trading?

Will that get you back out again?

h/t: Polygon, CNN

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