By Prankur Garg
If you were born before 1984 you may have been slightly baffled by all the talk and media coverage of Pokemon Go. It is a follow on from previous Pokemon games and is taking the world by storm. It has had more download than Tinder, more time spent on it than on Snapchat, Whatsapp or Facebook messenger.
Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game and here’s a brief catch up on the brand. Pokemon is a Nintendo franchise which was launched in the 1990s. In its world “trainers” travel the world to catch varied monsters called Pokemon – rats, dragons and the like – and use these critters to fight each other. The trainer’s goal is to “catch ‘em all” as the franchise’s slogan suggests and to become a Pokemon master by defeating prestigious trainers known as Gym leaders and Elite Four.
Unlike previous Pokemon games this latest one is not for Nintendo’s hand-held consoles but is a free download for Android and IOS devices.
The goal in the game is still to “catch ‘em all” but as an augmented reality one it mixes real-world elements with the game. Users have to hunt for Pokemon creatures in real-world locations using GPS and their phone camera. Once ‘captured’, the creatures can be ‘trained’ and used to ‘fight’ against each other.
Its instant success can be put down to a number of factors. It is free which makes it easy to pick up. It is new and exciting and as one commentator pointed out it realizes a vision Pokemon fans have had since the series came out: what if Pokemon were real and inhabited our world?
It’s been called a global phenomenon but is on limited release. In fact it was first launched only in the US, New Zealand and Germany. Worldwide release has been postponed to avoid problems. While it has just been released in the UK.
A so-called “augmented reality” game played on Smartphone has become a craze on the streets and given a massive boost to the share price of Japanese video-game giant Nintendo. In the less than a week since Pokemon GO was released it has surged to the top of the app charts and Nintendo’s shares jumped over 56 percent.
Though the game is free to download, Nintendo is set to make big money through adverts and additional items available for buy to make it easier to find and capture Pokemon creatures. There are also tie-in products.
However some analysts question whether Pokemon GO will be able to generate the kind of sustained excitement that would significantly boost Nintendo’s earnings – particularly given that the company now has to contend with a strengthening in the yen.
So far the game has only been officially released in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, but it is coming to Europe soon, along with Japan – one of the world’s biggest gaming markets.