If you have been living under a rock the last few weeks you may not have heard of Pokemon Go, it is a new mobile game/app licensed by Nintendo and developed by Niantic based off the ever popular Pokemon property.
What Is It?
The basic gameplay is easy to understand, the tech behind this game is not cutting edge but the way it is packaged is quite effective. The game is played on mobile phones, Android or iOS, and is free to download and play. There are in-app purchases but they are done proper in my opinion and don’t seem to be a pay-to-win model that many games fall into the trap of. In order to play the player must walk around in real life, the phones GPS shows the player where they are in the real world via a google maps overlay that defines roads, buildings, etc. When a Pokemon appears you have the option of using AR (augmented reality) to show the animal in the real world through the lens of your smartphone. The Pokestops and Pokegyms are real world places of interest, these places have been partly imported from a previous game Niantic developed called Ingress.
tldr: this game is geocaching with virtual animals, in a way. complete with battles and a level up system.
I am 34 and have never played or watched any Pokemon anything, ever. This game has me hooked. It has MANY people hooked and for myriad reasons.
Kids under 10 – These kids know of Pokemon from the cards or from TV. They probably don’t have smartphones so their parents have the game on their phones and there parents more then likely go out for walks with them to play. Being outside with your kid, walking, exploring, regardless of the presence of a phone is a great thing.
The rest of the kids – They are playing also, because their friends are playing, they are all playing. I live in a great neighborhood, every kid on my street from 8 to 16+ is playing.
All those kids parents – They are playing, because it is a great way to bond with their kids. You get to go out and walk around the neighborhood, hunt Pokemon, hatch eggs, stop at pokestops, battle at pokegyms, and get exercise.
Kidless Adults – when we were out last night, there were many many single guys and girls from their early 20’s to late 30’s out playing. My facebook news feed is filled with people I know that play as well. It is just fun. It is something to do.
The game pulls from all angles. If you have kids you want to play. The extent of my wife’s gaming is a week of candy crush, she doesn’t do Pokemon (neither had I ever) or any cartoons, etc. She is addicted to Pokemon Go as am I.
Our neighbor is a walker, she walks all the time and enjoys it. She started playing it because her kids were, she is now an expert, HA! My wife really started playing because our neighbor was and my wife wants to start walking more.
We all went out for two walks last night with the kids hunting these things. We went to a local college which is a hotbed of activity and there were literally 30 other people there walking around solo or with groups or families playing, people were happy and engaging, even friendly….crazy right!
This game is already big and it is going to get much bigger and fast. Nintendo’s stock has soared, it tops the charts in both app stores right now, it’s trending to beat out twitter in active users at a fast pace, it’s already beat tinder in it’s first week.
This can and will be a boon for local business. If your business is near a Pokestop get on the game NOW (your employees already are). When you choose your nickname pick something that advertises your store “EATatCIAOS” or similar. A player is able to set a “Lure” at a pokestop which draws in many pokemon, if you set a Lure at your pokestop people WILL COME in droves to that area and they will see you are providing that Lure, this will increase your foot traffic immensely.
You could also offer a discount to a Pokegyms owners team via signage placed in the real world near that gym. There are many more possibilities as well for real world advertising.
There is an article here that goes more in-depth CLICK
Pokemon Go has the potential to get many many people, kids, teens, adults, up and out of the house more effectively then nearly all previous public health campaigns combined. You have to walk and can’t cheat to find these Pokemon, you have to walk 2k, 5k, 10k, etc to hatch eggs to get rare Pokemon and people are doing it! I am doing it! and I DO NOT “walk”!
So looking forward, and it is very funny, but if the game keeps going at this rate and has real lasting power will people consider it a perk to work a job that has pokestops and pokegyms near it? That may sound hilarious but I have seen a buzz on social media regarding this very thing.
There are some problems I see arising. Like the example above, a local college has many Pokestops and a Pokegym, they saw a lot of foot traffic last night and will continue to. These people were friendly but how long until the college gets fed up with all these people hanging out at all hours of the night?
People Poke’ing and driving. So this is a problem. People driving instead of walking to catch pokemon, which you can do, but is obviously very dangerous. The danger is compounded by the fact that where you are driving and not paying attention there is a large chance that people are on foot at that exact location. The game knows when you are not walking by your gps speed and disables egg hatching for example but Pokemon still pop up to be caught. Driving is convenient but I almost think Niantic should disable the entire app if traveling over 10mph or so.
There has been at least one news report of a criminal setting a Lure at a Pokestop and an attempt to lure people there and rob them. This is terrible and I don’t want to imagine what other things could happen in a situation like this. There is no stopping a person from attempting this unfortunately. There is a very good article HERE outlining some solid safety tips. If you have younger kids, go with them, set boundaries, stay in groups, use common sense.
There are also privacy concerns as with any app on your smartphone. Facebook has been in hot water for asking for permissions to your phones microphone, camera, etc. This app erroneously asked for too many permissions at launch but has since been updated to pair them down properly. Personally I use a “burner” gmail account for all the games I play. This is just a free gmail account with none of my personal info on it I use to login to mobile games, an easy and free extra layer of security to me. Info on the permission dust up HERE.
Pokemon GO is poised to be a huge game for all ages, it could change the way we see mobile gaming. I think the positive outweigh the negatives myself but only time will tell.