The new Pokémon Go Plus is set to be a huge hit by allowing players to catch critters and collect items without ever taking their smartphones out of their pockets.
But monthly active users have plummeted from number 1 with 50.2 million downloads for the week of August 12, to 32.4 million and number 30 in downloads for the week ending September 10, according to the most recent listings from app marketing analysts at Apptopia. More importantly, average session time has fallen 21 percent to 5.41 minutes.
With kids back in school and temperatures dropping, only in 10 U.S. smartphone users are still regularly playing the game, about the same level as Twitter. Former Pokéfans are transitioning back to bragging about their fabulous lives on Instagram and Facebook.
But the game may get a big burst of new excitement with the release of Nintendo’s $35 Pokémon GO Plus peripheral, which automatically pairs with a pocketed iPhone through Bluetooth LE seamlessly.
The wrist worn GO Plus was co-developed by Niantic Labs and the Pokémon Company. The Plus permits the GO’s buddy training, tracks distance for egg hatching, and allows players to catch critters and collect items without fumbling with their smartphones.
The Pokémon GO Plus wrist band is reportedly comfortably featherweight, but buzzes loud enough for the user to recognize a new game notification. The Plus’s single button communicates by changes in color: blue for PokéStop; green for previously encountered Pokémon; and yellow for new Pokémon.
Pressing the button in response to a notification allows the user to either obtain some items or make an attempt to catch the Pokémon. Each push of the button debits a Pokéball, and then the user watches for the series of white lights signaling a catch in progress. Multicolored flashing lights means a Pokémon capture, a red light means an escape.
Adding Plus dramatically improves the Pokémon Go experience for all but the hard-core gamers that want to be holding their smartphone to experience the full data displays.
With the Pokémon Go app for Apple Watch not arriving until at least the end of 2016, the Plus will enjoy terrific traction. More importantly, if the indications are true that the Apple Watch Go app will not have the ability to catch Pokémon because it reduces battery life, the Pokémon GO Plus is going to have real staying power.