Holy Pokés! Pokémon Go developer Niantic has revealed the staggering lengths its users have gone to in the hunt for Nintendo's pocket monsters, calculating that players have collectively walked far enough to lap the Earth more than 200,000 times.
Niantic explained in a blog post that the grand total figure of 8.7 billion kilometres (as of 7 December) was reached by pulling together data from across both the iOS and Android versions of 2016's smash-hit smartphone game.
An accompanying video (embedded below) released to celebrate the mind-boggling milestone notes that on their travels, Pokémon trainers have travelled further than the estimated distance between Earth and Pluto (7.5 billion kilometres), capturing 88 billion monsters – around 533 million a day – along the journey.
A global phenomenon during its peak in the summer months, Pokémon Go adapted the catch-em-all framework of Nintendo's video game series to fit a mobile gameplay experience, utilising location-based data and augmented reality features to turn real-life landmarks into Poké-themed icons and transformed streets, parks and other public places into patches of wild grass teeming with Pikachus, Pidgeys, and a distressing quantity of Drowzees.
With more than 500 million downloads in its first two months of release alone, Pokémon Go's overwhelming success generated enormous revenue figures for Niantic and The Pokémon Company via microtransactions. The trickle-down effect of its success also saw Nintendo profit heavily with Pokémon Sun and Moon – the latest main games in the series – which broke multiple sales records for the Japanese video game publisher.
While its user-base has understandably dwindled over time, Niantic has gradually released updates to expand and improve the experience in an effort to please the huge swathes of Poké-addicts committed to the cause.
Earlier in December, Pokémon Go introduced an update which expanded on the app's original roster of 151 Pokemon lifted from the original Game Boy classic games with a select few pre-evolutions from "Gen 2" games, Pokémon Gold and Silver. Niantic also embraced the seasonal spirit by adding a limited-time festive Pikachu that wears a Santa hat.