Gotta catch ‘em all or not enough time: Users motivations for playing pokémon Go’ and non-users’ reasons for not installing

David Robert Broom, Ka Yiu Lee, Michael Huen Sum Lam, Stuart William Flint

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16 Citations (Scopus)
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Urban exergames are played in the real-world environment using built-in mobile phone sensors. The influence of Pokémon Go on physical activity and sitting time has been examined previously, however limited research has explored motivations for using the application. Thus, the aim of this study was to explore Pokémon Go users’ motivations for using the application, exusers’ reasons for abandoning the game and non-users’ reasons for not installing. After institutional ethical approval, the ‘Physical Activity and Pokémon Go’ questionnaire was developed using Qualtrics ’and distributed using social media soon after launch in the United Kingdom (baseline). At baseline a total of 461 participants (n=193 male, n=265 female, n=3 transgender) who were predominantly white (n=420) and did not self-report a disability (n=443) completed the questionnaire. Users’ (n=236) were questioned on their motivations for using Pokémon Go and non-users’ provided reasons for not installing. At 3 months a total of 127 participants (n=23 users) completed the questionnaire again and all qualitative data was thematically analyzed. The most commonly reported reason for using Pokémon Go was ‘to have fun’ which was 86% and 83% at baseline and 3 months respectively. The second most frequent reason at baseline was ‘friends were using it’ (58%) and at 3 months was ‘to be outside’ (48%). The least common motivation for using Pokémon Go at both baseline and 3 months was ‘to meet new people’ (8% and 0% respectively). At baseline, social motives and competition were two general themes which encapsulated Pokémon Go users’ motivation for using the application. There were two general themes reported by Pokémon Go users’ as to why they did not think they would use the application in the future. These were application related factors and factors unrelated to Pokémon Go. Non-users reported a range of reasons for not using Pokémon Go, including lack of interest and a lack of time. Safety concerns and risk of adverse events were reported by both users and non-users. This is the first study to thematically analyze motives for using Pokémon Go in which the findings are: 1) future smartphone applications aiming to increase physical activity must ensure that objectives evolve to maintain initial interest and motivation to engage with applications; 2) game developers must consider the required phone storage and capability which could be a barrier to downloading; and 3) concerns of using the application including the safety of users and those around them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7714
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).

Publisher Copyright:
© D.R. Broom et al., 2019.


The authors would like to express thanks to the participants and Matt Debney, Tom Parkington, Chloe Rodgers, Jessica Sharpe and Rob Wilson for piloting the questionnaire. The authors would like to thank the delegates of the ‘gamification’ session at the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA) 2017 conference who provided ideas for analysis. Thank you to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments that enhanced the paper. The study was approved by the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing Research Ethics Committee at Sheffield Hallam University.


  • Gamification
  • Mobile health
  • Motivation
  • Physical activity
  • Pokémon go

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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