Pokémon Go: Fad or Fantastic? | 4i

Pokémon Go: Fad or Fantastic?

26 July 2016 ‐ 3 min read

If your office hasn’t started its own league or WhatsApp group playing Pokemon Go yet, we’re pretty sure it won’t be long. We’ve noticed a distinct uptake in afternoon walks and surprise errand runs from offices around us and, hey, why not? It’s a great way to get active and take a break from the daily grind.

For the moment, we’ll suspend the notion that it’s not yet (at time of writing) officially available in South Africa, although it’s relatively easy to download if you know where to find the APK. Despite it not being officially released in South Africa just yet, whole communities have sprung up, leagues and teams formed and an engaged, active user base happily taking to the streets to explore their world and catch their desired Pokémon. Oh, and this has all happened in just the first two weeks of the application hitting app stores in other countries.

What Is It?

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play mobile application that intersects between the real and virtual world. As our CEO Renier puts it, “Playing Pokémon Go is much like playing Ingress, but not as complex.” Ingress, launched in 2014, is a massively multiplayer, location-based game that uses augmented reality to assist players to explore a virtual world in a real world setting. Pokémon Go operates on similar principles, by adding in enticing features that see players leveling up, evolving their Pokémon, challenging others at a PokeGym and picking up Pokeballs at nearby PokeStops. With in-app purchases making it a little easier to collect coins, buy lures and other useful items, Pokémon Go has quickly – very quickly – become a behemoth of the mobile world.

Just How Big Is It Right Now?

There’s no such thing as an overnight success story though, so let’s remember that Pokémon go reached crazy active daily user numbers, because it has twenty years of user attention behind it. In our studio, Jan said that it’s “interesting because it’s the first augmented reality game that’s seen seemingly overnight success. I grew up with Pokémon so this is a heavy nostalgia trip!” Rohann also chimed in that “Playing Pokémon Go gives you that ‘itch’ of wanting to collect things – you need to walk around to find and catch them!” Oh, by the way, Pokémon Go outstripped Twitter and Snapchat’s daily users within the first week and a half of going live. That’s how big it is right now.

“Playing Pokémon Go gives you that ‘itch’ of wanting to collect things – you need to walk around to find and catch them!"

But What’s Next?

We know what comes next – and it’s already happening – it's advertising. While the game is still ad-free and free to play, the clever teams behind Pokémon Go are already (apparently) in talks to set up sponsored locations and other tools for making money through a presence in the app’s real-virtual realm. By the way, there have been some hilarious stories already, and some intriguing ones – ask your local coffee shop if they’ve seen an increased number of people popping in for a coffee and then settling down with their phones – chances are, there’s a PokeStop nearby.

“it’s the beginning of AR – it’s the future.”

Augmented Reality For The Masses

And while Augmented Reality (AR) is not a new technology we get to play with, it’s had minimal public attention, because AR seemed almost otherworldly. As Herman in our team says, “it’s the beginning of AR – it’s the future.” And we're no strangers to AR - check out how we used Augmented Reality to bring magazine pages to life for Media24.

A Final Word

While the game has seen many people taking to the streets, exploring their neighbourhoods and even meeting up for Pokémon hunts or walks, playing Pokémon Go remains a security concern. Players should not be active on the game while driving and remain aware of their surroundings while exploring. There’s nothing wrong with skipping a challenge if it’s happening in an unsafe neighbourhood – you can catch the next one!