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Go Pokémon Go!

JINOY JOSE P | Updated on January 17, 2018 Published on July 13, 2016

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Pardon me, what ‘mon’?

Well, if you don’t know what Pokémon is, you are seriously unfit to be called an intelligent, thinking, worldly human.

Are you talking about the children’s TV show of yore?

If the 1990s is yore for you, then it is.

I have heard they were of some repute.

‘Sensation’ is the word, my dear. Apart from being a hugely successful cultural phenomenon of our times, the Japanese-born Pokémon franchise became a multi-billion brand. Even last year the Pokémon Company International generated more than $2 billion in revenues.

Wow!

Now, thanks to augmented reality and the boom in smartphones, the Nintendo-owned franchise is back in a completely different, zippy format...

Which is...?

Pokémon Go, a free-for-all augmented reality game on Android and iOS platforms. It was released in the US just a week ago, and is also available in Australia and New Zeeland. It is not yet in India, but the game has already broken several download records. One report suggests Pokémon Go’s about to overtake Twitter in the number of daily active users on Android.

OMG!

Yes, looks like Pokemania’s gripped the world. There are reports of people chasing and catching Pokémon in offices, hospitals, lakes, even churches and bathrooms. A teenager almost stepped on a dead body looking for Pokémon. And Nintendo’s laughing all the way to the bank.

But if it’s a free game, where’s the revenue coming from?

To play Pokémon Go, users must travel around the real world, unlike Pokemon games in which all the action happens in a virtual world. This time, the game uses the phone’s GPS and clock, and tracks its location on a map built inside and sends a Pokémon to you! These monster characters suddenly appear on your screen and you can hunt them at leisure. In the Pokémon world, strange-looking crazy monsters looking like rodents, reptiles, dinosaurs, birds and eggs, roam freely for players to hunt and keep. The more you catch, the merrier.

Interesting, but the money?

While you roam around and hunt, augmented reality kicks in. When you reach, say, a hospital, you might see Pokémon wearing a doctor’s gown or shaped like a germ. Also, there are PokeStops, real locations marked on the map in-game. Players can go there and get items such as Poke Balls and eggs that hatch into Pokémon. These things cost money. And that’s where Nintendo makes its bucks.

Oh, is there a lot of money?

As the game is downloaded by millions, Nintendo’s market value has gone up by over $9 billion. The game has also given a fillip to augmented reality, which many say is the gaming format of the future. A report from SuperData Research shows investments in the virtual reality and augmented reality market will grow to $3 billion this year and nearly $4 billion by 2018.

Aha!

Pokémon Go may be the biggest augmented reality game in the market today, but it’s not the first — Ingress, Life Is Crime are some others. And industry watchers say there will be many more in the market very soon.

Also, law enforcement agencies and regulators worry about the potential pitfalls of such games. For instance, four robbery suspects used Pokémon Go to attract victims.

Further, where Pokémon Go may force gamers to go is also cause for concern. Despite all such concerns, Pokemania is just catching on and nostalgic fans and neo-converts seem zip bothered about the bad press.

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Published on July 13, 2016
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