The launch of Pokémon Go
Last week saw the highly anticipated release of the augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go. The game, which sees the joining together of a twenty year old franchise and augmented reality, allows players to capture Pokémon in real world locations. Best described as a modern tech take on a scavenger hunt, Pokémon Go allows users through their smartphones to enter the virtual world of Pokémon. Through the app, a smartphone becomes a portal through which users can walk through their daily commute with the additional excitement of running into the likes of Pikachu or Charizard.
A collaboration between Nintendo and Niantic, Pokémon Go is already proving to be a massive success for Nintendo, who since the release have seen share prices soar by almost 25% on the Tokyo Stock Exchange with their market value rising by more than $7 billion in just two days.
Just two days after its release in the US Pokémon Go had been installed on more than 5% of all Android devices in the country. To put that into perspective, that’s more installs than Tinder and nearly as many active users as Twitter, which it is predicted to take over in the following days. It is also the top free app and top grossing app on the App Store and it hasn’t even launched globally let, with delays just announced to its introduction into the UK and other markets.
Google Trends data has indicated that more people are now searching for the word Pokémon than at any other time, despite its peak in the nineties. The average time players are spending on the app is 43 minutes a day, more than WhatsApp, Instagram and other social platforms.
The apps popularity lies in its innovation of augmented reality (AR), by using the camera on a smartphone users are able to experience real life views that they recognise. Supported in thanks to the in-game maps, which resemble your actual surroundings and landmarks, created by the people who gave us Google Maps. Pokéspots are strategically placed around the city serving as popular landmarks, encouraging users to get out and explore their city. The app is also able to utilise the map functionality to work out where you are and as such which Pokémon may be near, for example if you are walking along a canal or river you’ll most likely find water Pokémon characters.
Whilst the app may be encouraging fitness and a sense of exploration for those who tend to stay inside behind a screen, it has also led to a few unexpected side effects. The most common being the number of reported Pokémon related injuries, with a number of people ending up in hospital, after chasing the non-existent characters and falling over and injuring themselves. So common, a medical school in Arizona, took the action to email its student body reminding them to ‘capture carefully…approach with caution and remember to look up from your phone’ after the campus had been ‘invaded by Pokémon’.
The most notable case has been in Wyoming, whereby a teenage girl had gone in search of a water Pokémon only to discover a dead body.
Whilst perhaps problematic for those users getting a little too wrapped up in the game, it is bringing together a host of users to interact together and to explore their surroundings in the hunt for Pokémon. However, with such unprecedented popularity Nintendo have just announced delays in its global expansion of the app, so users will have to wait and instead spend the time sourcing through their old Pokémon cards.