Only those living off the grid will have failed to have noticed the impact that Pokémon Go has made in these last few weeks. It has pretty much single-handedly restored the validity of Augmented Reality and brought Nintendo back to a leadership position it’s not experienced since the launch of the Wii - 10 years ago.
It is far from the first good quality Augmented Reality App, there have been a number of quite decent Zombie Run style games, treasure hunts, problem solvers / geo-location puzzles and local area amenities signpost apps. Yet what Pokémon Go has done is to combine all the right ingredients in one singularly brilliant basic execution, it combines:
It turns out it is the perfect game for both bored work commuters and excitable children, and most everyone in between. It is even a brilliant incentive to get teenagers and unruly children off the sofa and into the outdoors. Several generations of a single family are busy ’collecting them all’ and facing off against each other with rare, recently captured pocket monsters.
I can’t say I’ve got involved yet, but several of my family members are active, and I can certainly see the appeal. The downside for Nintendo is that there’s not a lot of revenue to be had yet, and running all those servers is a significant cost. Yet not only has it resurrected Augmented Reality, it is heading for ’Biggest Game of All Time!’ status - on two different metrics - sheer numbers of active participants, and total time spent per session.
Not since Angry Birds has there been such a pervasive app, but Pokémon Go is getting average sessions of over 20 minutes. Casual gaming has always been a big thing since the rise of smartphones, but this takes it a level further, as it alleviates likely boredom on daily walks - whether on your way to and from school, work or the supermarket - you’ve got something to spice up the most mundane and samey part of the day.
Everyone will now be rushing out to produce similar games, to try to capture the moment, but few have the legacy and appeal of Pokémon. What you think is a flash mob now is just a gaggle of ’Go’ fanatics rushing to a particular location to capture one of the more elusive characters.
Criminals are using the App to set mugging traps for unwary gamers - so it’s probably best to rely on safety in numbers. There’s a brilliant YouTube video - as follows which shows a swarm of Pokemon fans rushing to a particular part of Central Park, New York:
I personally think Pokémon Go is brilliant, and fantastic news for parents who usually struggle to get the kids out of the house on school days - you can now get the kids up a little earlier on the promise of a detour or two to capture some more pocket monsters ...