3 Years Later, We’re Still Feeling the Ripples of Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go is the hugely popular augmented reality (AR) mobile phone game based on the Pokémon video game franchise. It proved to be a social phenomenon when it launched in July 2016 and remains popular, generating $176 million in August 2019. And while the idea of Pokémon Go changing the world may be a little dramatic, it absolutely has left its mark. 

The Possibilities of Augmented Reality

There is no denying that Pokémon Go took AR to new heights and garnered unprecedented exposure. Augmented reality refers to when a device, such as a mobile phone, can project digital images onto a user’s view of the real world. Based on its popularity and revenue generation, Pokémon Go clearly demonstrated the ability of AR systems to impact people. Now not only are tech companies like Apple and Google diving back into things, but unlikely companies like Wayfair are attempting to build AR platforms that can help you see how their furniture may look right in your room. The potential of AR to both get people out and about through gaming or to deliver close looks at goods in your own home are an enticing goal for many companies, and Pokémon Go gave many a reason to get started. 

Spotlight on Cellphones and Safety

While AR and Pokémon Go are generally seen as positives, there are some caveats that must be discussed. In the first 148 days, there were 134 accidents that could be directly linked to the game. This quickly led to legal action, and though the producers of Pokémon Go quickly acted to reduce danger, the game can still be used unsafely. In addition, the need to have your cell phone out has brought some attention to players who trespassed on private property or entered cemeteries, memorials and places of worship without reading rules or respecting the property. These types of incidents have shown the need for AR developers to consider safety and impact on the real world. 

Using Games to Enhance Welfare

One of the biggest pluses to Pokémon Go is that it encourages people to get out into the world, walking around and interacting with each other and their community. Pokémon Go players have used in-game events as an excuse to meet up and hold food drives and community cleanups. Many local museums report greater numbers of visitors, and some businesses have seen greater foot traffic. However, perhaps the greatest success of Pokémon Go is in “gamifying” health and wellness. Unlike traditional games, where you are linked (often physically) to a gaming station or computer, Pokémon Go and AR get people outside and moving with tangible health benefits both for individuals and even society.

Pokémon Go may not be a seismic change on the order of air travel; the internet; or that famed invention, sliced bread, but it has and will continue to affect the world. From making the potential of AR become reality to promoting health and welfare, Pokémon Go is at the forefront of cultural and technological change. As long as safety considerations are taken into account, that potential has the ability to make the world an even more amazing place.

Are you thinking about developing your own app? Read this first.