By Alicia Young
By now you’ve likely heard about the new phenomenon sweeping the nation: Pokémon Go. Its release last week spurred a downloading spree like no other, with parents, young adults and children alike downloading the game. But what exactly is it? The app calls to people who grew up wanting to be the very best by inviting them to literally catch ‘em all—this is what dreams are made of for those of us who grew up watching Pokémon in the ‘90s. Now you can travel across the land, searching far and wide for cute little monsters that may make appearances on sidewalks, backyards, office phones or even on the bed of your wife while she’s in labor.
To say Pokémon Go has taken off is an extreme understatement. Its popularity shows because, for a free app, it has been making quite a bit of money. Market Intelligence firm Sensor Tower has estimated that, since its launch July 7, the app had an estimated 7.5 million downloads, equating to about $1.6 million in daily revenue in the U.S. alone. That number is only expected to go up, especially as the app goes global. Since July 6, it has been mentioned on Twitter 6.6 million times, with 59 percent of the tweets coming from young men. Adweek found that the discussion peaked Sunday night around 10 p.m., when 130,000 tweets about the game were being sent every minute. The impact the app has had can be seen in that Nintendo’s stock rose 9 percent last Friday on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, according to Variety. On Monday, the stock closed at ¥20,260 per share, up 24.5 percent for the day. These are monumental outcomes, but why is the game so popular in the first place?
Virginia Tech’s James Ivory, who manages the university’s Gaming and Media Effects Research (G.A.M.E.R) Lab, told newswise, “Pokemon Go’s popularity shows the importance of mixing a good story with a simple, fun game to make a hit entertainment product.” He continued to say, “Children have long known that adding a good story to a task makes it fun, and Niantic Labs has done a great job of that by attaching the Pokémon story to a simple geolocation-based game.” His statement holds merit in that the game isn’t much more complicated than the plot of the TV show. The objective of the game mirrors that of the show; you create a character, go out into the world to find Pokémon and then battle them at gyms around you.
Jordan Edelson, founder and CEO of Appetizer Mobile, also weighed in on the success of Pokémon Go by saying, “The people that grew up with the brand (in their teens and younger years) have spending power now and those are the ones that have helped this to launch so successfully. The original fans now coupled with a new younger demo (which is making it cool and social), are giving Pokémon brand new exposure. People are both being reintroduced to this brand and new, younger fans are being attracted to it for the first time. Often such comebacks don’t appeal to different demos, but Pokémon has managed to change that.”
Edelson discussed the abnormal number of adults who have downloaded the app, and their reasons for doing so by saying, “With this type of brand, typically someone in their 30s wouldn’t be interested in this sort of thing, but 30-something today have grown up with Pokémon and are now attracted to engage with it again. Consumers are connecting to what is familiar for them and stirs up a strong emotional response that brings back fond childhood memories…The 30-somethings trust the brand and its characters from their childhood. They are buying into familiarity.” And his statement is completely true. Whether you are a young adult reliving your childhood and reminiscing about the Pokémon card trading you used to do in school, or a parent playing with your child who has just discovered the world of Pikachu, everyone who plays absolutely loves it.
Aside from the nostalgia associated with the game, the great thing about it is that people are actually going outside and walking miles to find the creatures. It’s basically a disguised fitness app that is getting people to be active in their pursuit to fulfill their destinies as Pokémon Masters. In their dedication, some people are going a bit too far and getting themselves into dangerous situations. One Reddit user wrote, “Not even 30 minutes after the release last night, I slipped and fell down a ditch. Fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot, 6-8 weeks for recovery. I told all the doctors I was walking my dog. . . . Watch where you’re going, folks!” Likewise, in Wyoming, 19-year-old Shayla Wiggins came across a dead body while searching for Pokémon by a river. Needless to say, while the app is fun and transports you to another world, you need to pay attention to your surroundings to make sure you’re not putting yourself in harm’s way. Don’t follow a beacon into a dark alley at 2 a.m. and definitely don’t play while driving!
Essentially, Pokémon Go is a revolutionary app that, based on its success, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, we’re likely to see Nintendo’s competitors attempt to come out with something similar. So, whether you’re battling your Pokémon at the gym on top of the TMC building in Norwalk, CT, or searching far and wide on the beach in California, be aware of your surroundings and watch out for real life Team Rocketmembers. But no matter what, have fun, embrace your childhood and go out and catch ‘em all!
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