Pokémon Go has been released in UK and till date over 600,000+ Android users have downloaded the same. iOS download figures are not currently available, but over 2000 users have already left reviews and the general consensus is overwhelmingly positive. With many additional users downloading the app early through unofficial channels, it seems over one million of them are playing Pokémon Go already.
Around the world we can see a similar situation. These countries currently have Pokemon Go access: the USA, Britain, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Australia. The game is being rolled out to users in more countries as quickly as possible, but there have been delays and system crashes due to the exceptionally high demand. Anywhere between 9.5 million to 21 million people are already estimated to be using the app on a daily basis – considering the amount of potential users in countries such as Canada, Japan, France and Russia when the game goes fully international, Pokémon Go has the potential to surpass Twitter, Snap chat and even Facebook for total daily users.
Exactly what is Pokémon Go, and why is it so popular?
Pokémon Go is a ‘freemium’ mobile application, available on iOS and Android devices such as smart phones and tablets. The freemium model is one in which the basic game is free to download, and allows players to access most features. Once inside the game, purchases can be made to pick up bonus content or to achieve milestones more quickly. The developer makes money from these purchases and also from in-game advertising.
Pokémon was created by games company Nintendo back in 1995, as a video game for the handheld Game Boy console. In the game, players hunt for and collect small creatures known as Pokémon, which possess magic powers unique to their species. These cute critters can be trained in order to fight battles, and winning Pokémon will evolve into stronger, more valuable forms.
A TV series, two movies, comic books, toys and merchandise and many more video games have followed since, and Pokémon is still immensely popular 21 years later. The new game works much the same as the originals did: players have to locate Pokémon and capture them, before battling other players for the title of Pokémon Master.
How does the app work & what can it do?
The Pokémon Go game is one of the first mainstream games to use Augmented Reality (AR) technology in gameplay. It encourages users to load up the app and head out into their surrounding environment, after which they will receive a phone alert whenever a Pokémon is nearby. Using the phone or tablet’s camera, players look around the real world until the Pokémon appears on the screen. They can then capture that creature and keep it as their own.
The map also shows areas called Pokéstops, where players can refresh their inventories, and Pokégyms where players can congregate and have battles – potentially securing the location for their team. Players can choose to join one of three teams, boosting the social element of the game and encouraging people to download and play it together.
The app also makes use of a process called geocaching. This term comes from a traditional tracking system similar to orienteering, where participants track a mobile signal to locate a hidden box, often containing a log book to be marked. Pokémon Go takes this to a whole new level, sending out mobile signals at specified locations throughout the world and allowing mobile devices to pick up those signals to achieve the digital reward.
The app has already received plenty of praise for getting people out of the house and encouraging physical activity, and studies suggest it could have a very positive effect on players’ mental health. Since its release just a few days ago, Pokémon Go has seen millions of downloads and shares in developer Nintendo have skyrocketed. It seems that the game’s fan base extends beyond Pokémon lovers to those who are taken by the technology and love the game’s style.
What does this mean for future apps?
Several apps and games have already embraced geocaching and similar ideas, but none on the same scale as Pokémon Go. Geotargeting is something that retailers and marketers have known about for a while, however. When it comes to shopping, having the edge on the technology front is important. Studies suggest that shoppers who receive location-based adverts are more likely to buy the product, and offers sent while a shopper is in store are highly likely to be used.
One area of consumer life which could benefit greatly from geocaching technology is the voucher and discount market. Having directly targeted offers which can be collected in store or around town could encourage greater interaction with shoppers.
For now, Pokémon Go gets to take the lead in mobile geotechnology and it seems that over the coming weeks, it will only grow in popularity. Soon we could see a whole new wave of apps using this same technology in our everyday lives, and quite literally changing how we see the world around us.