What's Up with Pokemon GO?
By: Will Nesbit | @notwillnesbit
Pokémon: creatures to be captured, hatched, or trained
Pokéstop: in-game hub at an actual geographic location at which players can acquire items and place lures
Gym: in-game hub at an actual geographic location to be held by one of the game’s three teams. Ownership can be transferred by battling Pokémon.
Blink-182 has a number one song, Tarzan is in theaters, and everyone is playing Pokémon again: just like 2001, right? Not exactly. Pokémon GO is shaping up to be a completely different monster than any of its predecessors, and in one week has become one of the most widely used apps across all major smartphone platforms.
For those unfamiliar with the craze, Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game in which the GPS in a user’s phone tracks their movements and allows them to navigate an in-game world to catch Pokémon. As such, the game has brought countless youths and adults alike outside in the quest to “catch ‘em all”.
Many businesses have capitalized on the increased potential customer flow in some areas by placing lures, which are in-app purchases that lure Pokémon to the location they are dropped, at a Pokéstop in or near their place of business with the hopes of bringing users in or by running promotions that give a discount or special deal for players of a certain team or level. Though there is currently no way to pay to have a Pokéstop or Gym at a certain location, the presence of such a feature in a similar game developed by the same company could indicate that there soon may be. As of now however, the profit potential of Pokémon GO is limited to those businesses who are either mobile or already located at or near a Pokéstop.
Pokémon fever has not hit without some bumps in the road. Two teens in Encinitas, CA walked off a cliff while playing the game, men in Maryland used it to lure users and rob them, and it is suspected that multiple car accidents over the past week have been the result of “Pokémoning and driving”.
In summary, the Pokémon GO fad has indeed captivated the nation. Though like many app store sensations, the transience of the game’s popularity will likely become apparent in the near future. In the meantime, there is both money and bad decisions to be made, fueled by the combination of nostalgia and innovation that is Pokémon GO.