Pokémon Go, I’m sure you’ve heard the name sometime over the past week and a half. The popular new app blends fitness, augmented reality, and best of all nostalgia, to give the world a fun outlet that gets them out of the house.
Just a little background on the app in case you’ve been living under a rock since the release last week. Pokémon Go was made by Niantic Inc. in collaboration with The Pokémon Company and utilizes Google Maps and augmented reality creating a whole new adventure. The app allows you to see and collect Pokémon in the real world as you take the adventure outdoors to different locations; leveling up, fighting gym leaders and “catching ‘em all.” Interestingly enough the game was actually built off of Niantic’s other IP known as Ingress and utilizes the same Google Map system with a majority of the same landmarks as the Pokéstops.
As soon as the app launched, the whole world wanted to play it. In the countries it was released in people couldn’t stop talking, posting, snapping and tweeting about it, and in the countries it wasn’t released in, people were quickly working out non-official ways to get their hands on it. Even today, the app hasn’t released officially worldwide, yet more and more people are playing it all over the world.
One of the best aspects that Pokémon Go (PoGo for short) has given to the users is a sense of community. As you can catch Pokemon just about anywhere, you will inevitably run into people playing, either alone or in groups. For example days after the game launched in the States, outside of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston there was a Pokéstop. Arguably there were more people coming and going, stopping, sitting, setting up lures (these help you catch more and better Pokémon) than there were in the MFA Boston. The sense of comradery is infectious, with everyone happy and sharing their experiences with each other, IRL no less. This sense of actual community across such a large scale hasn’t been seen in a very long time and is any brands dream come true.
Understandably, there are still many people who are worried about how PoGo is affecting people. Most are worried about players walking around staring at their phones and the dangers that can cause. Trust us, this isn’t a new phenomenon. While certain concerns may have popped up since people have started playing, this is once again part of a bigger concern of teaching people proper new technology wherewithal.
The counter argument is also being made as stories emerge of how the game has helped people with anxiety get out of the house, it’s helped those with exercise issues get out and walk around for miles that they would not have done otherwise, and it’s helping parents bond with and spend more time with their children.
Pokémon Go has not just had a positive impact on players, but it has also had a huge impact on businesses. Many places are seeing a huge influx of customers as there are generally more people out and about. In addition to this, many businesses have embraced the game and used it to help promote their business. In fact, the first corporate sponsorship has emerged, with McDonalds paying to turn all their locations into Pokéstops or Gyms. Quite frankly it’s a real case study in how a good product, even a small “throwaway” app can have on the bigger business community.
All-in-all Pokémon Go is a titanic phenomenon that is taking us to the next frontier of app design and gaming and is arguably the first real success in the world of augmented reality. You can expect to see Niantic ride the wave of this somewhat unexpected success to make even more strides into the gaming world. If you haven’t Pokémon Go yet, you are missing out, if you are in a country that doesn’t have it yet… well rest assured you will be out hunting soon enough.