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Pikachu is popular, but he’s not so great with money.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game Online is one of the most downloaded iPad apps in the world right now. In the United States, the card battler is the fourth most downloaded app on iPad, according to data-tracking company App Annie. In Canada, the pocket monster TCG is No. 2. This shows the continued popularity of the Pokémon franchise and that a huge portion of its audience is using smart devices like tablets to play games. At the same time, the game hasn’t figured out a great way to make money.

After debuting in Canada, the Pokémon Trading Card Game went live around the world earlier this week. Despite the worldwide launch, it only features in-app purchases in Canada.

“As of now, only players in Canada can purchase gems, which is the in-game currency,” a Pokémon Company spokesperson told GamesBeat. “We have nothing to announce at this time regarding other markets.”


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The Pokémon Company is clearly using Canada as a test market for selling gems, which players can use to buy booster packs and upgrade cards. But the result of that experiment so far aren’t exactly great.

According to App Annie, Pokémon’s card battler is only the 108th highest-grossing iPad game in the card genre. It doesn’t even rank when it comes to the overall app and game markets. It reached its highest rank of 55 on Sept. 28, and it has steadily fallen ever since.

This reveals that even though Pokémon is an incredibly popular brand, it doesn’t mean people will spend money on it. Plenty of companies struggle to generate in-app purchases in their games, and the pocket monsters are not special when it comes to this.

To give a comparison, when publisher Blizzard’s World of Warcraft card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft launched in April, it also shot up to the top of the download charts, but it also managed to get into the top-30 highest-grossing games on iPad. The Pokémon TCG Online isn’t even in the top-100 highest grossing games.

As Pokémon gains more players on iPad, it could move up the charts in Canada. The developer could also introduce more in-app purchase options. As of now, you can only pay $10 for 250 gems or $25 for 650. It’s possible that a $1 or $5 microtransaction could give a big boost. We’ve asked The Pokémon Company whether it will offer lower prices, and we’ll update this story with its response.


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