The initial reception of the new game, Pokémon Go, has been wild this past week. Chances are you have already heard of this game, even if it hasn’t officially been released in your country yet.
Within days of its release on July 5 in the US, Australia and New Zealand, Pokémon Go has added $11 billion to Nintendo’s value and this value is expected to continue to rise as more players get hooked onto the game. This game is Nintendo’s biggest entry maneuver to enter into the mobile space. The initial statistics released by Reuters is promising – the game is already more popular than Tinder among users on Android and an average user spends about 43 minutes on the gaming app, more than the time spent on Instagram by Android users.
TechCrunch reports some even more interesting numbers:
- The game is already the top 5th app in the US charts, and already above the widely popular games on Android, including Candy Crush and Clash of Titans.
- On the App Store, Pokémon Go made it to the top of the chart in just four-and-a-half hours of its release, a record among recent gaming apps that have been launched on the store.
- The game has already topped the download charts in Australia, New Zealand and the US.
The game is expected to release in Europe, UK and several parts of Asia over the next couple of days.
So what is this widely popular game and why are people going crazy over it?
Why People Are Enjoying Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game from Nintendo, available to download from the iOS and Android stores on mobile phones. Pokémon is short for pocket monsters, and is a widely popular videogame series from Japan that was first launched in the 1990s.
In this latest version of the game, the app uses GPS to track your location and the gamer has to locate Pokémon in real-time in his physical surrounding. Since the game incorporates the real environment of the gamer – the augmented reality bit – it makes the game extremely interesting. The player can capture Pokémons in the wild by throwing a Pokéball at them. The more Pokémons one catches, the more powerful the player becomes and the creatures evolve. Since the app is free to download and play, it’s popularity has been steadily on the rise in the days since its launch. The game needs you to step out of your house, interact and explore the physical world, making it insanely infectious. What kinds of Pokémons you see depend upon the kind of environment you are in physically. For instance, if you are in a park or a garden you will be able to catch bug-type Pokémons. If you were at the beach instead, you will be able to see more water type creatures.
Because it involves walking around, Pokémon Go is a pseudo-fitness app too. Maybe we have finally arrived in an era of videogames that do not turn one into a couch potato because we are so addicted to our electronic devices.
The Problems With the Game
People are out hunting for adorable creatures on the streets and ending up in unlikely places – empty alleys where they can are getting into sticky situations like a robbery or in other people’s backyard where they get into confrontations for no other reason except that they were simply playing a game on their phones without paying attention to where they really were going. There is a safety issue involved here – people are walking while playing and that could cause serious issues when out in the streets – sprained ankles and bruises to begin with. Pokémons are being found everywhere – from graveyards to toilets and even strip clubs. A 19-year old girl in Wyoming was looking for a Pokéstop and found a dead body in the river instead. What happens when people start playing while driving a car? Such safety concerns are already raising some alarm bells.
Also, because the game includes places of general interest in the outside world like restaurants, cafes and stores, business owners have taken to posting signboards outside their stores that say – “Pokémon are for paying customers only”. However, a few stores have taken the opposite approach and are encouraging people to not only drop into their store to catch Pokémons but to also take a look at their stuff.
Is this to be a New Fad?
Is Pokémon Go going to be the app that changes the way people interact with their digital and physical worlds? Is this the game that will bring more business to places of public interest? Or is it going to create a hazard for game players and make safety an issue? For now we wait and watch as the game releases in other countries within the coming weeks. The initial reception of the game has been favorable thus far. Nintendo seems to be having their best time, since the company’s highest surge in 1983. People with mental health issues have found a reason to get out of their houses in search of Pokémons and are meeting new people and making friends.
This is the definition of new age gaming perhaps – to play and to interact simultaneously. How successfully the makers of Pokémon Go can keep up the interest of its players and smooth out issues like technical glitches, will determine how long we continue to play the game on our smartphones.