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Pokémon Go’s live events drove nearly $250 million in tourism revenue last year

Pokémon Go’s live events drove nearly $250 million in tourism revenue last year


Niantic says its AR game is a boon for host cities of its live events

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Photo by Dani Deahl / The Verge

Niantic Labs says its live events for augmented reality hit Pokémon Go contributed $247 million in tourism revenue last year across three cities. The announcement on Wednesday was paired with the new schedule for 2020 events across Pokémon Go, Ingress Prime, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

“Over the last 7 years, live, real-world events have been central to Niantic’s goal in leveraging technology to create interactive experiences that foster exploration and discovery, active and healthy lifestyles and lasting friendships,” Michael Steranka, Niantic’s senior manager for live events, said in a statement. “Niantic’s large-scale real-world events have had a true and clear positive economic impact on tourism, bringing people from around the world together for a weekend of adventure.”

Niantic says its AR games are good for local businesses

Niantic says the biggest revenue generator was last year’s Pokémon Go Fest Chicago, which drove an estimated $120 million in tourism expenditures from attending players, which included 64,000 attendees across the four-day event. That’s triple the number of participants from the inaugural Pokémon Go Fest Chicago in 2017, which suffered from severe cellular connection issues that made accessing accounts and playing the game difficult.

Niantic has greatly improved its live events infrastructure in the years since, and its events now go off largely without any issues. Another Pokémon Go Fest, this one in the German city of Dortmund, drew even more players last year, totaling more than 86,000 attendees, although it ultimately generated just under $60 million in tourism revenue, Niantic says.

Still, the company has proved that it’s capable of handling large-scale events now. It’s planning more festivals for the game in St. Louis and Philadelphia later this year, as well as one in Liverpool, England. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is also getting its second fan festival, while Ingress will have a series of events that happen concurrently across three days in the first half of the year.

Correction: Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is hosting its second fan festival in the first half of 2020; an early version of this story said it was its first.