What is Pokémon Go? Is it a good game? Should I get it? We answer these questions and outline the pros and cons of Nintendo's augmented reality game. Find out why there is such controversy over this new smartphone game and what are its psychological effects. Join our debate and poll (below)
What is Pokémon Go?
Since July 2016 you probably have heard some strange stories about people "hunting" little virtual creatures called Pokémon with their smartphones, as well as some incidents linked to this game, such as unexpected crowds, traffic accidents and even some crimes. But what is Pokémon Go exactly?
Pokémon Go is the latest instalment of Nintendo's Pokémon video game series and the first one to be released for smartphones. It is an augmented reality adventure game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices (smartphones and tablets). In Pokémon Go players assume the role of "trainers" who travel throughout a fantasy world in order to discover, hunt and later train some exotic monsters, called Pokémon. Players can search real-world locations in order to find new Pokémon and capture them. Pokémon Go uses a smartphone's GPS and will make it vibrate when the player gets close to a location. Players will be able to see the wild Pokémon on the screen when they point their iOS or Android device at the correct location. Then players will touch the screen to throw a "Poké Ball" to capture the Pokémon. Trainers compete to collect as many Pokémon as possible, then they also train them to make them evolve, increase their combat power and level up. In Pokémon Go gamers also need to find PokeStops, where they can acquire items, such as eggs, potions and Poké balls, and Gyms, which are battle locations used to train Pokémon.
Pokémon Go follows a free-to-play model with microtransactions. This means that users can download the game on their mobile devices and play for free. However, those willing to pay can buy "Pokécoins" and with them purchase Poké balls and other equipment to help them capture Pokémon and make them evolve. Players can also purchase the Pokémon Go Plus, which is a wearable device which helps them locate wild Pokémon, PokeStops, and Gyms.
Pokémon games became extremely popular in the late 1990s among Game Boy players. Ever since Nintendo has launched more than 50 console games in the Pokémon universe, selling more than 277 million of copies and 21.5 billion collectible cards. This franchise has managed to maintain its commercial success for two decades and generated $57.65 billion in revenues. Over the last few years the Japanese company was undergoing some financial problems due to the underperformance of they Wii U console. Many analysts saw in the fast growing smartphone sector an opportunity for Nintendo to redress its situation. Conversely, other experts thought that moving into the mobile phone sector could seriously damaged the quality image that the Japanese game company had managed to build. It is still early to assess the impact of Pokémon Go on the global reputation of Nintendo. However, the instant commercial success of Pokémon Go, which has made the value of Nintendo on the stock market skyrocket, seems to confirm that Nintendo's risky bet may well pay off. The company's market capitalization soared $7 billion during the first weeks after the release of the game. "Pokémania" is here, or perhaps has returned, but for how long?
Pokémon Go facts
- 15 million downloads within the first week of release. 75 million downloads within the first 20 days of its US release. The game has been downloaded more times in a week than the popular Tinder applications during its four years of existence.
- Nintendo shares went up 23% after launch.
- By 8 July 2016, only 2 days after the game was launched, it was already installed in 5.16% of all American Android devices. The average user spent 43:23 minutes per day.
- By 12 July, the game became the most active mobile game ever in the United States with over 21 million active users (Candy Crush Saga reached 20 million at its peak).
- By 26 July the game generated more than $75 million through in-game purchases.
- Spotify streams of Pokémon theme "Gotta Catch 'Em All" went up 362% during the first week of Pokémon Go. There are about 200,000 user-generated playlist in Spotify related to Pokémon.
- More than 350,000 users of the British phone network EE were playing the game before the game was launched in the UK.
- The average daily usage of Pokémon Go exceeded that of Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, Facebook and Twitter.
- Players will be able to catch 151 different Pokémon characters.
Watch this Pokémon Go review from Gamespot:
Pokémon Go pros and cons
Pokémon Go has been greatly praised but also criticized. Although Pokémon is taking the world by storm, in fact the game has received mixed reviews (68/100 on Metacritic). This is not a classic Pokémon game, so for some of the traditional fans of the saga the game may be a disappointment. In fact the game was not developed directly by Nintendo but by the Californian software company Niantic Inc. However, it is undeniable that this game is managing to attract millions of children and adults for the first time to the Pokémon universe. In addition to the technical virtues and defects of this video game from a technical perspective, it is important to consider some of the benefits and risks associated to the Pokémon Go experience.
"Should I get this game?" Well, it depends on your expectations and the type of gamer you are. These are the main pros and cons of Pokémon Go:
- The game is fun and easy to play. You don't need to be a hardcore player or even had played a Pokémon game ever before. The game is very intuitive to make sure that both children and adults can enjoy it, while requiring some level of strategy.
- You can play for free. Even if there is a chance to speed up your progress in the game through in-game microtransactions, you don't need to pay to download the game or play.
- It can make you healthier. Pokémon Go creates incentives for your to get-off your couch and go for a walk to hunt for Pokémon. An effect of Pokémon Go is what psychologists call behavioral activation. It encourages people do some exercise and move and help prevent obesity.
- Augmented reality technology, such as that used in Pokémon Go, can contribute to treat some psychological disorders, such as depression, anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). Moreover the game has a clear structure and offers incremental challenges to avoid fatigue and keep up motivation.
- Pokémon Go creates opportunities play and interact socially with other people. You may make new acquaintances and talking about a light topic such as this game may ease the social anxiety some shy people may feel.
- Non-threatening theme for all publics. The game aims at teaching friendship, respect for the others and hard work. Although Pokémon fight other Pokémon, this is largely a non-violent game very different from many of the popular game franchises, such as Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and The Witcher, which usually include high degree of violence and adult content.There are many games, animes and movies available for those who want to dig deeper in the Pokémon universe.
- The mix of reality and fantasy can help children develop creativity.
- The game can help you better know your town and discover some locations which may have historical or artistic value. Many Pokémon are "hidden" in relevant spots, so in order to capture them you will have to scan scultures, parks, murals and buildings.Some poeple even travel to capture Pokémon.
- Gameplay is very basic / shallow compared to previous Pokémon games. In a nutshell this is a classic treasure hunt game in an augmented reality fantasy world. Those who have already spent hundreds of hours fighting their Pikachu, Charmander, Bulbasur and Squirtle Pokémon may find that some aspects of the game have been excessively dumbed-down. Catching Pokémon is extremely simple and no combat is required. The battle system is not particularly good comparatively speaking and making your Pokémon evolve can become a very repetitive and boring task. The game is more or less interesting depending on the geographical location.
- You need to have the application of the game open all the time in order to get alerts of nearby Pokémon or PokéStops. This means you will drain your battery extremely quickly or you may need to revisit places you walked past when the application was closed.
- Although this game gets players outdoors, they are still on their phone. Pediatricians do not recommend spending more than two hours a day looking at a screen. Some Pokémon Go players spend many more hours a day on their phones due to this game.
- Pokémon Go can be very distracting and even dangerous for people, this is called in psychology a "blended reality state." Walking while watching the screen of a smarphone is dangerous, much more so driving while hunting for Pokémon. There have been many accidents recorded in which people have been hurt because of distractions linked to Nintendo's new game. There have been car crashes, people falling from their bicycles while "hunting", traffic jams provoked by drivers leaving their cars to search for nearby Pokémon, etc.
- Many crimes related to Pokémon have been reported. People have been lured into locations with Pokémon and then robbed. Muggers have also realized that some areas where valuable Pokémon are "hidding" will attract many people with smartphones. People chasing Pokémon may also accidentally enter dangerous areas of cities where they can be assaulted.
- The game can also become problematic for people with some psychological disorders. For instance it can heigthened the level of stress or create some psychotic episodes in people who have difficulties separating fantasy from reality.
- Pokémon Go may become costly for some users. Since the game has microtransactions and requres data, some children and adults may end up spending a lot of money by playing this apparently free game.
- Pokémon can become a tool to lure people into shops.Companies may pay the developers in order to drive players to their shops and restaurants. For instace if a highly valued Pokémon can only be found in a certain store, this store may get hundreds of people coming in order to "hunt" it. They may also purchase something there. In fact McDonalds and Pokémon Go have already signed a partnership so that the fast food chain will host in 3000 of its restaurants in Japan Pokémon Go Gyms.
Hot questions: Is Pokémon Go simply a craze or fad? Will augented reality games become increasingly popular in the future? Do you think overall the impact of this game is good? Is this a nice reboot for the Pokémon video game franchise? Are people hunting Pokémon their smartphones in hand annoying? Is this game too dangerous? Will the pokémania last?
Watch this discussion on the Pokémon Go phenomenon:
If you change your mind, you can change your vote simply by clicking on another option.
Pokémon Go pros and cons. Is Pokémon Go a good game? Controversy and facts
New to netivist?
Join with confidence, netivist is completely advertisement free. You will not receive any promotional materials from third parties.