The success of Pokemon GO is now part of video game folklore, with the title currently sitting at 650 million worldwide downloads. However, the true sign of the game's potential came within hours of its release. According to Ed Wu, director of software engineering at Niantic, the title had hit its peak worldwide projections for users just hours after launch.
Giving a presentation at the Game Developers Conference, Wu explained some of Niantic's work to prepare for the launch of Pokemon GO. The development team took a look at the growth curve for player bases of other mobile titles, and then calculated an estimate for how many users their own project would receive, working out a plan for how much network traffic they could expect. To be on the safe side, this number was then multiplied by five.
This number was then given over to hosting provider Google, ready for the July 6 launch of Pokemon GO in Australia and New Zealand. When the game went live, however, the popularity of the title well exceeded even the highest of expectations, with the initial launch alone pushing past the global network traffic estimates within just a few hours.
"We knew that we had something special on our hands," said Wu in the presentation. "We nearly exceeded our peak worldwide capacity — the expected number — in a couple of hours and were trending well on the way towards that five times, ‘ludicrous’ number." This was happening with what Niantic believed would be "less than five percent" of the total worldwide player base. When it became clear what was happening, Wu then "called in the cavalry" at Google.
Following this, additional servers kept being put online by Google to meet worldwide demand, with the game launching in North America and Europe. At its peak worldwide traffic, Pokemon GO was pulling in approximately 50 times what had been originally placed as an estimate. This certainly explains why there were some teething issues at launch, with many players finding it difficult to access the game.
Although things have settled down more now, Niantic is still planning to release more content for Pokemon GO to keep its user base interested. There will be three more major updates for the game in 2017, following on from the recent second generation Pokemon update. Hopefully, there won't be any more serious issues to contend with.