Pokémon Go launched in Australia and New Zealand on 5 July, and became an overnight sensation with its US launch the following day.
It shot to first place in Apple’s list of top-earning apps in the US in less than a day, and has overtaken apps like Twitter in terms of daily active users on Android.
The game is developed by Google spin-off Niantic, with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company, and its popularity put severe strain on Niantic’s servers.
This resulted in the company “pausing” its international roll-out.
Speaking to Business Insider, Niantic CEO John Hanke said they had to slow down their global roll-out to upgrade their server capacity.
Once they were comfortable, they would resume launching in new countries.
Why not simply boost their server capacity by several multiples and roll out everywhere?
Hype vs. server capacity vs. player attrition
As SurveyMonkey noted, other mobile games that build huge initial hype saw their user numbers suddenly plummet after a few weeks.
Regardless of platform, newly-launched online games rarely sustain their initial user numbers as the novelty wears off.
Niantic may therefore not wish to invest in server capacity that could become redundant soon.
To ensure the game remains sustainable, it is typically better to gauge uptake and player retention, give subscriber numbers a chance to stabilise, and then roll out further.
That said, Pokémon Go’s growth has shown no signs of slowing down, with SurveyMonkey suggesting that it is on a trajectory to beat SnapChat and Google Maps in terms of daily active users.
In the past few days, Niantic has resumed its international launch of Pokémon Go, first in Germany, and then in the UK, suggesting that it is now “comfortable” with it server capacity again.
Provided its servers holds out, there is no reason to believe we won’t see the game become officially available in South Africa soon.