Pokémon Go is the latest craze hitting countries around the world, with celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Jimmy Fallon playing the game.
This is the second generation of the Pokémon craze, following the Nintendo game and playing cards from the late 1990s. It makes millennials a prime target for Pokémon Go having played the original during their childhoods. The mobile app was released to the UK earlier this month and has quickly become one of the most viral mobile applications of all time, with the sentiment of millennials playing a huge part in its rapid rise. It had more daily users than Twitter in the US in the week following its launch, and has since attracted more engagement than Facebook.
Pokémon Go involves catching Pokémon characters in the real world, which is mapped using Google Maps data and uses augmented reality to bring the game to life like no other mobile game ever has. It’s now officially the most downloaded game for mobile of all time, overtaking the peak audience of Candy Crush in 2013.
The UK was the fifth country worldwide to receive the app, and there are now 35 countries with access to the servers according to the Daily Mail. There are 150 Pokémon to catch in total, and the UK public has been getting busy in everyday surroundings. Despite the warning of maintaining awareness around your surroundings when you download the game, one group of four teenagers became stuck in an underground cave, 100ft below the ground, according to the BBC, after the game directed them in that direction in order to find rare Pokémon.
Even Justin Bieber has been spotted playing the game in Central Park, but barely anyone even noticed him because they were all transfixed on the game, according to TechInsider. Ironically, Bieber is in New York City playing two sold out shows at Madison Square Garden, finishing out his Purpose tour. But he managed to walk through one of the busiest areas around NYC without being disturbed for around 20 minutes.
Upon the release of Nintendo’s new technology, share prices climbed by 65% – an unprecedented rise for a company of that size, according to the Guardian. That follows various frequent flops such as its recent games console, Wii U, which has sold around 25% of the figures of the PlayStation 4 despite being released over a year earlier. Their first mobile app, Miitomo, resulted in a 9% fall in share price a day after its release.
That maybe puts the phenomenon of Pokémon Go into perspective, as it’s a reinvention of the original game into the smartphone era. This may mark the beginning of a new age for smartphone games, bringing them to life in everyday situations. The augmented reality concept has been around for the past few years, but Pokémon Go has encapsulated it on a worldwide scale for the first time.
Marketing and sponsorship
The next step for Pokémon Go will be retaining its user base across the millennial generation, while also somehow monetising the app. It is believed that sponsored locations will be added to updates of the game, and its launch in its home country of Japan has included sponsored locations such as McDonalds, while other sponsored locations are expected to be added to the game in various other countries, potentially the UK.
The ground-breaking augmented reality concept of the game, coinciding with the sentiment from millennials as the primary market, has led to record-breaking users and growth. If it can become more slick and polished – and stop crashing due to over-subscribed servers – then there’s potential for Pokémon Go to stick around at a sustained level of popularity.