Pokémon Go: The Game That Proves Augmented Reality is Here to Stay

By now I’m sure you’re aware of Pokémon Go, the latest phenomenon that has been cluttering your Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other form of social media you have. On the off chance that you’re one of the people who is not aware of this game, here is a quick breakdown. Pokémon Go is a smartphone game which utilizes Augmented Reality, to combine the world of Pokémon with our world. The way it does this is by utilizing your location through Google Maps and encouraging you to explore the world around you in hopes to find, and catch, Pokémon.

No one ever expected that Pokémon Go would experience the level of success which it has attained today, a mere 15 days after its release on July 6th. As of today Pokémon Go has been downloaded over 15 million times, and over 60% of those who have downloaded the app in the U.S. are using it daily. Users are also spending more time in Pokémon Go than any other app; on average Pokémon Go is being used for 43 minutes per day, which is higher than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp. Pokémon Go is so popular that the game’s servers have been continuously crashing due to being overload with a colossal amount of players at once. Pokémon Go is also breaking records when it comes to its ability to retain and monetize users. According to Techcrunch the app is seeing retention rates at more than double the industry average and is pulling in revenues at twice the average rate for mobile games.

Just to provide an example of how big Pokémon Go really is, here is a video taken on July 16th which shows a horde of people headed to Central Park for a rare Pokémon.

The success of Pokémon Go can most likely be attributed to the ease of use and the wide fan base of the Pokémon franchise, which appeals to older nostalgic fans and to kids and teens who are playing the current generation of Pokémon games. The significant adoption of Pokémon Go is a very good sign of things to come for AR technology and gaming alike. One of the biggest hurdles that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality need to overcome is the feeling of skepticism from the masses, which makes Pokémon Go the perfect solution to this problem. Anyone who owns a smartphone can play Pokémon Go, which makes it very low risk to try out; and if the stats are any indication people are liking their experiences with AR technology.

Pokémon Go is a win for gamers and non-gamers alike for a variety of reasons. First and foremost it was able to get a lot of people with no prior interest or exposure to try out AR technology; which will spark further interest in the potential applications of AR and VR technology, and that in turn will cause developers to make more advances based on demand and interest. Additionally Pokémon Go is not a traditional game you play in front of a computer or with a gaming console, it requires you to actually go outside and explore, which is something parents are likely overjoyed about. Finally, Pokémon Go has shown us that this technology is not only for the ultra-savvy or hardcore gamers, anyone with enough interest can easily utilize this technology in a variety of ways. 

Pokémon Go has managed to capture a wider and more diverse audience than any game before it; and in doing so has proven that people are more than willing to adopt AR given the right concept and execution.  The next step for AR and VR technology is to piggyback off the success of Pokémon Go and keep people interested in AR and VR so that the potential for these technologies can be fully realized.

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