5. September 2016

Ready, Set, Pokémon GO…!

It´s fairly certain that by now everyone knows about the augmented reality App Pokémon GO.
Its simply not possible to remove yourself from it in your daily life; or not be in some way confronted with it, whether actively or passively.
Almost every day new headlines and videos about Pokémon GO are appearing in the global news and on every social media platform.
Not only did this App open a complete new market for people who are calling themselves analysts and are sharing news, tricks and tips; but also for the passionate player who of course wants to be the first to `catch em all´.
It starts with quite helpful ideas; like a Pokémon Map or new add ons and ends with an actual Pokémon GO dating service called PokéDates. ( Yes, it´s true!)
Not only coffeeshops, restaurants, clothing stores and entire malls; but even banks are cashing in on the popularity the game has so far, using it to attract new people and customers to their businesses.
The massive worldwide attention this App has recieved is totally unique. There is simply no other way to say it.
Even political news are involved on an almost daily basis. 
1.000 People meeting spontaneously to catch Pokémon

1.000 People meeting spontaneously to catch Pokémon

Since the release of the original Pokemon in 1995, Saudi Arabia has a Fatwa against Pokémon and now because of the release of the Pokémon GO App; this discussion has gained new fuel and is causing of late serious trouble within the country‘s society.
The German Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) had to officially and openly publish through public media and its own social media feeds, that players please refrain from playing near training shooting ranges and not enter forbidden areas just in order to find Pokémon.
Not only because of recent events; but also to prevent that similar incidents like in Bosnia repeat themselves again.
People catching Pokémon do usually pay no attention to traffic, unconsciously causing serious accidents sometimes; or they are so focused on their smartphone screens, that they make more than easy targets for thieves and quite regularly people are being robbed without even noticing.
Just recently the government of Iran forbade not only the App and its usage, but also restricted access to download it. For security reasons, according to the officially released statement from the Iranian government.
It sounds like a bad joke, that the media attention combined with the many unusual incidents and world reactions to the App only fuel the hype even more and is making it more successful.
Pokemon-GO-Hype-1024x576-46e1c6f286a303f9 Marketing is marketing and any attention, whether good or bad, coupled with free worldwide publicity almost always leads to a rapid increase in profitability. It is absolutely nothing new.
Politicians, celebrities, large companies and global concerns all know this and have been using this principle to their advantage for decades which makes it only logical that it also works to the advantage of today´s gaming developers.
The chosen release date for the Pokémon GO App, couldn´t have been better placed; also because the developers of the App already had learned from the not so groundbreaking experience of their first game App `Ingress´.
It was simply genius to combine a globally known brand, with a huge nostalgic factor from our childhood, AND the new technology of augmented reality, and then make it accessible to everyone, always and for free.
The highest percentage of Smartphone users are around 12-35 years old, so everyone who was playing Pokémon as a kid, is now naturally hooked to play the game Pokémon GO, even if it is only to see if it is as good as the original Pokémon.
The time factor is quite important as well.
In times like ours which are dominated by terrorism, including the fear and necessity of always finding new ways to prevent attacks, questionable political orientations/parties and the common uncertainty; it was just natural that this easy, new, exciting, engaging and innocent game would be on fire.
In most release countries it is Summer right now and the majority of the population is constantly outside and is socialising more actively than the rest of the year.
No one is hesitating to go outside to catch some Pokémon, or walk an extra mile in the warm sun.
At the same time, players have to physically involve themselves in the game, which some people jokingly say helped more to reduce child obesity worldwide, than every single governmental program ever.
What is going to be very interesting is to see if in the really cold months of the year, the people are still so frequently outside and if the hype regarding this game will continue with the same intensity as now.
Unquestionable is, that the developers of Pokémon GO created something huge, which isn´t requiring a certain age or income level and is feeding the player´s craving to ‘catch `em all’
in a way no other game did before.
Regarding the demographic distribution of the game, there is still room for expansion.
Not everyone has equal chances to collect Pokémon the same as, for example, people in more developed areas.
Big cities, mean more variety, more space to hunt and shorter paths to collect your goal.
Generally the Smartphone as an entry point into the world of gaming is nothing new.
Everyone can probably remember the times where people passionately moved sweets from one box into the other and when Candy Crush was more of a lifestyle, than a game.
Pokémon GO also has no `endgame´, meaning that the player continues playing as long as they want, until they are bored or overfed or until the next big deal appears on the market to distract their attention. So far there is nothing comparable to Pokémon GO, in terms of putting a game into the consumers everyday life like this game does.
Just like 90% of the Samsung Gear technology, the Pokemon Go App was produced with the gaming engine from Unity 3D. A worldwide known and popular tech Company which offers the customer a ‘blank canvas’ in 2D and 3D on which to create his game to release it on 25 platforms in total (Windows, Mac, Linux, Consoles, Android, IOS etc).
According to their motto: ‘Write once, publish many’
Not only independent gaming developers, but also well known development Companies are utilising Unity 3D proudly as a basis. Already 1/3 of the 1000 most commercially successful games are based on and with Unity 3D.
Statistically speaking; Unity 3D are reaching over 600 million gamers and since their launch in 2004, have over 5,5 million registered developers on board.

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It´s difficult to guess whether the App Pokémon GO was just at the right time in the right place, or if it just included itself naturally in our ever growing and constantly evolving Zeitgeist.
Our lives are circulating constantly around the endless accessibility of information in the Internet and nowadays we dont have any problem getting used to the constant digital manipulation through our Smartphone screens. We are not trying to catch up with the virtual reality anymore because it already caught us.
Microsoft seduces you with its HoloLens to virtual workspaces and Snapchat hires several special effects masters to make their photo filters more incredible and unique.
So, is Pokémon GO really just a natural product/phenomenon of our time?
 pokemon-go-players
It´s no wonder then, when the experiences we achieve through virtual reality, are saved as real memories in our brain and not only as things which shortly happened while we were gaming in the Internet.
We literally experience the game fully by developing actions/happenings, sharing them, and connecting them emotionally in the very same moment as they are happening. Therefore we are saving them as real memories.
Maybe it is easier to explain this way:
Virtual Reality + Pokémon GO is creating a convincing experience in the exact same moment as it is happening; in the here and now, in the present.
Virtual landscapes, objects and characters seem to be really there, projected onto a background in our real world; which is a clever trick from technology to make our brain believe that something is really existing, occuring and tangible in our actual surroundings.
The Perception of the shown images are then not saved in our brains as illusions, but more like `magical, unbelievable, exciting and real events´.
This game requires much more attention and physical participation than any other game or screen ever because it is simulating an incomparable authenticity and will surely become an essential measuring standard for upcoming AR Apps to be finally considered as commercially competetive.
So far there are no alternative games to compete with Pokémon GO, but here are some examples if you are still not willing to give in to the hype around Pokémon GO:
1.Blippar, a app which is scanns visual content and shows various informations regarding the scanned thing/product.
2.Zombies Run! An audio controlled fitness App, which uses the adrenalin-kick of being hunted by Zombies to improve your fitness and push you on a higher level.
Other related Apps are for example Wikitude, Geocaching and the Ikea catalogue.
For us it is going to be interesting what else is to come and how far Pokémon GO will be used in the future as a worldwide standard for game developers.

 

Best of Twitter:

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Navilo