While the active population of Pokémon GO may have dropped significantly since its peak popularity of 45 million during July, the impact of the mobile game is still significant. How significant? According to a research paper by Microsoft Research, Pokémon GO could have inspired US users to increase their daily activity by over 100 billion steps.
The paper, Influence of Pokémon Go on Physical Activity: Study and Implications collected data from 1,500 Pokémon GO players during July and August, and aimed to shed light on whether the Pokémon GO playerbase increased their daily activity by any significant margin.
Using data gathered through the use of a Microsoft Band wearable, researchers also used search queries from Microsoft's search engine, Bing, to identify potential Pokémon GO players from amongst a pool of 30,000 Band wearers. Once identified, the team cross-referenced their findings against an average from a further 50,000 random Band wearers, in order to ascertain whether the game's launch had caused an increase in physical activity above the normal average.
And the answer? Yes. Highly engaged Pokénerds increased their daily activity by an average of almost 1,500 steps. Using this data, the study estimates that the first thirty days of Pokémon GO added 144 billion steps onto the US total for that time period. That's enough casual strolling to walk around the equator 2,724 times, or saunter to the moon and back 143 times. The study goes even further, estimating that a sustained increase of physical activity on this level could add a total of 2,825 million years onto the US national life expectancy.
The surveyed pool of 1,500 people may be small compared to the millions of users that downloaded Pokémon GO, but lead researcher Tim Althoff feels his group's findings are accurate. In an email to Polygon, he expressed confidence that their results are fully in-line with similar studies.
“We find that in our study, subjects had a median age of 33 (reasonable given expectations for who actually plays Pokémon GO), 36.5 percent were overweight and 28.2 percent are obese. This matches official U.S. estimates very well. These indicate that our population is not extremely off.”
While the study may admit that the sampled pool may not be truly representative of the US population, having required that participants have purchased a Microsoft Band, it does prove that regardless of its current state, Pokémon GO has significantly impacted things.