Pokémon GO, Niantic’s smartphone-based augmented reality game, has gone viral. A quick look at trending topics on the internet is enough to tell you that. And yet, not everyone knows what the hype is about. So here is an article to give you the complete lowdown on why so many people are talking about it, and so many people are walking about with their noses buried in their phones.
Pokémon: A brief history
Before we get into Pokémon GO specifically, let us go back to the beginning, with the birth of the Pokéverse. Ironically, Pokémon started life as a game played on a hand-held device. Specifically, Japanese gaming behemoths Nintendo published it for their 8-bit, hand-held gaming device called the Game Boy, and the rest, as they say, is history. According to T3 Magazine, Pokémon is the third biggest gaming franchise in the world after Mario in first place and Tetris in second. From the original game development back in 1995, Pokémon became an instant hit, and has branched out into full-fledged video games, a ridiculously popular TV show, merchandise, trading cards, movies, and comic books. All this before the addictive smartphone game even came out!
Pokémon GO: What it is all about
Pokémon GO is the latest addition to the Pokéverse. It is a triumph in game design, which sees augmented reality (AR) meshing with Pokémon to create a game that people just cannot stop playing.
The game involves walking around your neighborhood and catching Pokémon, the fictional creatures of various species, which carry specific attacks and characteristics. Simply put, the aim as players or Pokémon Trainers is to catch, develop, evolve Pokémon, and battle other trainers with them. You use your phone’s GPS and internet to locate Pokémon in the vicinity, and then spot them on your phone screens, approach them, and catch them by tossing Pokéballs in their direction.
There is even a smart wearable device called the Pokémon GO Plus to go with the game. Currently, the game is available on iOS and Android, and Niantic is phasing their launches of the game by region so as not to overburden their servers.
The game started out the US, Australia and New Zealand, then spread to Japan and Great Britain among others. After a whole host of official launches across Europe, it was recently announced that the game is officially available in 15 more countries, this time in the Asia and Oceania region. This means Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau were all added to the ever-growing list.
You can find more detailed information regarding Pokémon Go, including compatibility and regions on the game’s official website.
How big is Pokémon GO?
It is huge.
Well, to give you some context, according to Fortune, it has already crossed Tinder in terms of downloads, and may even have overtaken Twitter in terms of daily users!
Here is another snippet from the piece to really drive home its popularity –
“Tracking data shows that 60% of those who downloaded the app in the U.S. are using it on a daily basis. What’s more, the average person is playing it for more than 43 minutes a day, topping popular social and messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Instagram, and Snapchat.”
Forbes ran a story about the popularity of the game as well, citing quotes from Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg, and Apple top-man Tim Cook, all of whom have reserved praise for the game. If you still aren’t convinced, check out this page by AppInstitute that shows real-time statistics about how many downloads the game has had, and how much revenue it has earned since you logged on to the webpage.
Pokémon GO, the crazies
You know anything in modern pop culture has a hit cult status when there are a few crazy stories surrounding it, and Pokémon GO has managed to that as well. Here are some of the most famous and most bonkers accounts:
- Olympic gymnast Kohei Uchimura was in Brazil, representing his home nation of Japan in the 2016 Olympics. That wasn’t all he was doing there though, because as this news story reports, he spent all his spare time playing Pokémon GO, and racked up a phone bill of close to $5000 because of the roaming charges he incurred while chasing the fictional monsters. The story ends well though, because his carrier waived off the extra charge eventually.
- Then there’s Andrew Goldfarb, from IGN, one of the biggest tech websites out there also posted this video about falling of a pier while chasing Pokémon.
- Tech Insider reports of a massive car crash due to the game, when a player drove into a tree because he was too engrossed with the game.
- CNN Money narrated a story of how a teenager in Wyoming even found a dead body, thanks to the game.
- A woman found out her boyfriend was cheating on her, when she noticed her boyfriend had captured a Pokémon at his ex’s house, as the NY Post explains!
- The US Marines and police used the game to track a suspect, as per CNN.
- And on the flip side, The Guardian reports of enterprising felons using the game to rob people.
When one game can lead to so many weird, bizarre, and even potentially dangerous situations, you know it has transcended its medium and become a worldwide phenomenon. So now that you know everything there is to know about the game, are you going to go out there are try to “catch ‘em all?”
At Seamedu, our constant endeavor is to encourage new talent, skills, and ideas. Who knows, the next big game development idea might just be in the making at our campus right now!