The world went crazy for Pokémon Go. On July 7, one day after its release, it had more Android installations than Tinder in United States, and the next day it was on more than 5% of US Android devices. Nintendo’s stock rose over 24% in Tokyo trading, adding $7.5B to Nintendo market value in two days. People are getting robbed and finding dead bodies while playing Pokémon Go. News & social media feeds are full of Pokémon Go headlines.
Pokémon Go is a marriage of augmented reality with quite popular franchise back in 90’s. Players walk around real-life neighborhoods with smartphones, hunting on Pokémon characters, fighting at gyms, visiting “Pokestops” and doing other game activities. Here is a full guide on how to play Pokémon Go.
The thing is the revolution didn’t start this week. The game and technology behind it existed way before it was released. Pokemon Go, as a beta version was already known by the internet, two-three months ago. Niantic announced a japan-exclusive beta test back in March, 2016 expanding it later to Australia, New Zealand and United States In April and May. The testing ended almost a week before its release.
A youtuber from Australia posted a video gameplay of Pokémon Go on April 26 which has almost 3.5 million views to this date. You will find some negative, some funny / positive and some interesting comments on it.
April 2013, Google.
The idea for Pokémon Go game was born back in 2013 as an April Fools’ Day collaboration of Nintendo and The Pokémon Company with Google (Google Maps), called Pokémon Challenge. Niantic was involved soon after.
Niantic Labs – “a Pokémon company” was originally formed inside Google too, but with the formation of Alphabet in 2015 it went independent. Before Pokemon revolution, it was best known for Ingress — the smartphone game where players are virtually fighting to control locations around the world. Basically, the technology behind Ingress which also backs Pokémon Go, was invented while the company was being incubated within Google. You will find many similarities between Ingress and Pokémon Go. You can even use Ingress’s live map as a reference to find more Pokémon Go gyms and stops.
Ingress is very interesting game itself. I’ve played it before and honestly, it really made my city trips a lot more fun. Shortly, many popular places, including monuments, statues, parks and building are some sort of portals from where exotic matter is leaking. Your goal is to join one of the two opposing camps and help them hack the portals to gain the control over nearby territories. I even tried to hack the portals inside the Google office (yes it’s legal). My friends also liked the game for a while and I think many people around the globe seriously got involved in it, but still, it didn’t gain that much popularity as Pokémon Go. Maybe because the interface of the game looks really complicated and the gameplay doesn’t seem as fun as catching and training funny, little pocket monsters. But many people would agree, Pokémon Go is an Ingress with “new skin”.
The positive side both games have is that instead of making you stay home and live in virtual reality, they encourage you to go out, discover new places and more importantly socialize with other players. In fact, the CEO of Niantic says that the team behind the game had three big goals in mind when building Pokémon Go. It was Exercise, “To see the world with new eyes” and Breaking The Ice.
Pokémon Go is not the first augmented reality game and sure it’s not the last one too. I think Its success will inspire many other franchises to work on new augmented reality games with their own characters for their communities and fan-base. I will not be surprised if I catch a huge dragon from Game of Thrones in my backyard one day.
Until then, learn how to catch Pikachu as your starter – from Forbes and watch these guys playing Pokémon Go with their drone. And if you are tired of this Pokemania on the internet, this chrome extension, called PokeGone will help you block all Pokémon related content from your eyes.
Let me know what are your thoughts about the game in the comments. Did you know about Ingress before and do you find Pokémon Go similar to it?