TLDR: Made a Pokémon Go Map app and received over 300,000 downloads in the first week
I was on vacation in Big Bear Lake, California for the 4th of July when the latest and greatest Pokémon game was released, Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go was the first official Nintendo licensed app for iPhone and Android, so it was a pretty big deal. It wound up having one of the best game launches of all time and receiving international press attention.
Deciding to make an app
On one of the first days, it occurred to me that if I wanted to take advantage of the hype of Pokémon Go, I’d have to do it now. The App Store search engines work by giving apps that have a lot of downloads, high usage, and ratings high search engine positioning for keyword searches. So, I knew if I wanted to get ranked for any Pokémon Go search terms, I’d have a small window of time before other apps were occupying that same space.
For the next couple days, I figured out what kind of app I would make and got to work. I read that the company that created Pokémon Go previously made a similar game where they got all the Gym and Pokéstop locations from. I looked into it to see if I could easily scrape that data to make it available in a map app. However, the data was not trivially easy to scrape so I rejected that idea since time was critical. I settled on making a map app that would crowd-source Pokémon Gym, Pokéstop, and Pokémon locations. I pre-loaded roughly 5,000 points of interest that I found on other locations around the internet.
There were a few delays: driving home from vacation as well as contemplating whether it was even worth my effort to work on it. I got it finished about 2 days later than I could have if not for delays.
So, the app got released and I did some marketing to get it some initial downloads and then let traffic pour in.
The above chart is for the Canadian App Store, but you can see how it’s ranking really shot up. It wound up getting as high as rank 7 overall in the Canadian App Store.
Here is a screenshot of some of the countries and it’s overall App Store ranking. The list goes on and on, however it was truncated for the purpose of having a smaller image.
Here is a screenshot in the US App Store (the biggest globally) and it getting to rank 2 in the reference category and receiving more daily downloads than the Bible.
It All Ended
So, after about 1 week in the App Store and receiving over 300,000 downloads and users posting 100,000+ locations of Pokémon, Pokéstops, and Gyms, Apple removed the app from the App Store due to the icon looking too similar to Pokémon. I believe my app was the only one to be removed for the reason, despite it having less resemblance than others.
Several weeks later, most of the other Pokémon Go related apps were removed by cease and desist letters from Nintendo.
That’s it, after my app got removed, I didn’t think it was worth it to try and get it re-approved by Apple because it would have lost it’s search positioning. I am now back to working on my normal business…