Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you may have noticed that people have been looking under rocks for the past month. This is due to Pokémon GO, which has seen gaggles of teenagers (and even some grown adults) congregating on street corners, noses in their phones, battling it out for control of their local PokéGym. Yep, it's a thing.
Launched in early July, the app game allows you to become a trainer by catching bizarre animals in an augmented reality, becoming a phenomenon that has attracted millions of active users in just a few weeks. Whilst AR technology is fairly new to our everyday lives, it has already been used by household brands such as House of Fraser, Ford and Audi to allow customers to engage with interactive storefronts. Despite this, it has taken this particular mobile-based game, developed and published by Niantic, to bring the tech into the average UK household.
So how does it work?
Those who download the free app onto their smartphones can choose to personalise their own trainer. The app then uses the device’s GPS capability to integrate reality into the virtual Poké-verse, letting players capture, battle and develop their creatures. Meanwhile, local landmarks are usually converted to Poké-stops, which provide gamers with crucial items.
The video has also fitted in well with another global trend: the health and wellbeing industry. Pokémon GO encourages good fitness habits by offering rewards for every 10km walked whilst playing the game. 2016 has seen the Fitbit and other health trackers gain popularity, so no wonder this fun pastime has attracted so many users. Impressively, the first UK trainer to “catch ‘em all” lost two stone, walking the equivalent of five marathons to obtain all 143 beasts available in Britain.
With this much attention from the whole world, it was inevitable that brands and companies would begin to quickly take advantage of the marketing power of the app. Smart business owners have already bought the in-game ‘Lure’ item, which attracts Pokémon to a specific location. Working out at a cost of £1.58 per hour, the feature could certainly be worth it to some brick and mortar companies, who aim to attract a regular customer flow through their doors. Niantic are also in the process of drawing up a cost-per-visit model, where advertisers can sponsor locations.
Nevertheless, as with any online craze, the app has attracted some negative attention. A 19-year-old is said to have been charged with careless driving, after he crashed his car through a fence and into a school building whilst adding the pocket monsters to his Pokédex. Furthermore, transport bosses at TransPennine Express have issued a warning about the game, asking their passengers to be vigilant when playing on station platforms. Several Pokémon fans are said to have been unaware of their surroundings and put themselves and fellow commuters in danger, which is a severe price to pay for snatching a Charizard.
Give it a GO!
Having made sure not to fall into Hull Marina or walk in front of the Piemobile, we’ve had great fun searching for Zoltorbs and Jigglypuffs. Courtney was well chuffed when she caught her first Bulbasaur, which is now filling in for an office plant that's being repotted.
Do you have any snaps or vids from your Pokémon GO adventures? Share them with us on Facebook and Twitter.