The arrival of Pokémon Go has captured everyone’s imagination, it seems. The augmented reality version of the classic “pocket monster” game has, within just a few days, generated hundreds of stories about all aspects of the game.
People are questioning the game’s privacy, some people have got lost trying to play it, people are asking whether the data is secure and marketers are eager to find out how they can make money with it.
Pokémon Go is basically Foursquare, with cartoon characters
The app is simple. You go to a location where there is a Pokémon character and the app makes your phone buzz. You point your camera at the location until you find the Pokémon in the image, then you try to catch it. Once you have caught it you can train it.
The game comes at a perfect time. The generation that grew up with Tamagotchi pets is now old enough to be aware of location-based marketing and interested in augmented reality. While location-based marketing is quickly coming of age, augmented reality has not yet proven its worth. What better way to do this than with a simple and fun game.
Guides to Pokémon Go
How does Pokémon Go affect mobile data?
The Pokémon Go app is an interesting test case for network performance. The individual app uses less bandwidth than Facebook, which is on most smartphones. However, the popularity of the app in its first week of release adversely affected mobile networks.
The Verge spoke to Cam Cullen of US networking company Procera, which ran a test on a small European telecom.
Cullen told The Verge that the game’s network drag could increase exponentially if Niantic decides to start letting third parties interact with its world, which would create new dialogs and sessions every time a player interacts with one, therefore bumping up the server load.
Third parties will definitely be launching apps to complement the game, and Engadget warns users to watch out for fraudulent apps.
Sean Buckley writes: “At a glance, Pokémon Go Ultimate looks a lot like the official app – but after installation the app renames itself PI Network. Launching it immediately causes a user’s device to lock up, rendering the phone unusable until the battery is removed or the device is rebooted via the Android Device Manager.”
Users have been quick to get into Pokémon Go
In its first week of release in the USA, Pokémon Go was downloaded more than 10 million times on Android alone.
Wired magazine reports that users are already flipping accounts, as they fill them with captured Pokémon.
KM McFarland wrote, “uUsers with high-level accounts featuring the hottest Pokémon are selling to players willing to pay a premium to avoid grinding (and walking – lots and lots of walking). You can find Pokémon Go accounts, from levels in the high teens to the low 20s, with powerful and rare Pokémon for sale on Craigslist, Facebook and elsewhere.”
Maybe that approach would have helped a group of teens to avoid being stuck 100ft underground when they went down there trying to chase a Pokémon under the app’s direction. The BBC reported this story on 15th July.
That story reminds me of the woman who drove 900 miles following a sat-nav when she was trying to only go 38 miles to pick up a friend from the station. Then there was the family that drove their vehicle into a river in Italy while following a sat-nav.
Then there is the story of a New Zealand bartender who quit his job so he could play Pokémon Go full-time. “When I resigned, I didn’t tell my manager I was going out into the world to hunt Pokemon,” Tom Currie told BBC Newsbeat.
What’s next for Pokémon Go?
Before Pokémon Go, Niantic created Ingress – a similar game that uses augmented reality to encourage users to interact with the world around them while completing a mission.
Here is the video promoting Ingress.
The main difference between Ingress and Pokémon Go is that Ingress users need to work in a team. One of the features of Ingress is that users can swap items. This feature is not yet built into Pokémon Go but Niantic has announced this will come in a later release.
Naturally, social media is a breeding ground for conversation and sharing. There’s a Reddit forum called Pokémon Go Snap, for people to share images.
The big talk among tech-savvy marketers is that Pokémon Go offers the potential to increase footfall to specific locations. A business could, for example, pay Niantic to make the business a PokéStop (for example, to collect rare items only available at your location) or a gym (to host a battle).
Niantic CEO John Hanke told the New York Times these kinds of deals are already in place with Ingress. Churches, particularly, are keen on the game, saying it encourages more people to pay them a visit.