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Business News/ Mint-lounge / Features/  Pokémon Go: The cultural phenomenon has made a comeback
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Pokémon Go: The cultural phenomenon has made a comeback

Pokmania returns in a modern avatar, and even though the game is available in only three countries, the numbers are already mind-boggling

‘Pokémon Go’ has been downloaded around 7.5 million times in the US from the Google Play Store and the Apple App StorePremium
‘Pokémon Go’ has been downloaded around 7.5 million times in the US from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store

It is official. Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm. Essentially, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality (AR) game created by the partnership of software company Nintendo, game developer Niantic and The Pokémon Company, responsible for licensing the Pokémon franchise. Currently available for Android and iOS users in the US, Australia and New Zealand, the game basically asks you to take your phone and walk all across your neighbourhood to collect the augmented reality Pokémon. AR is all about overlaying virtual images over the real world.

There are multiple aspects to the Pokémon Go game—collecting Pokémon as you walk around your city, raising your own Pokémon and make trades with other players. Essentially, you are expected to walk around all day looking down at nothing but your smartphone, searching for the next Pokémon which can be caught. In fact, the game will also send you notifications when you are in the vicinity of one of these Pokémon, and the game itself points you to various locations which you need to visit in your city or neighbourhood. These are known as Pokestops, and are critical to your in-game progress since being at these locations can help you restock critical items such as Pokeballs, healing Potions for your Pokémon etc.

Download love

App analytics company SensorTower used a predictive algorithm using multiple data points to generate an estimate of the number of downloads Pokémon Go is witnessing, and the numbers are boggling—it has been downloaded around 7.5 million times in the US from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. It is estimated that the game is garnering around $1.6 million revenue per day, according to SensorTower numbers, on just iOS devices.

Tinder gets stood up

Released on 6 July to Android and iPhone users in the US, Australia and New Zealand, mobile and web insights company SimilarWeb suggests that Pokémon Go has become a rage in their report titled “Pokémon GO: The Data Behind America’s Latest Obsession". Going by Android numbers, it is estimated that Pokémon Go was installed on more Android phones in the US than the extremely popular dating app Tinder within one day of the release of the game. While a lot of us outside the US may not be familiar with Tinder, the app is quite a rage in itself—on 26 January, Tinder announced that as many as 26 million new matches are made on the platform on a daily basis, globally. Back to Pokémon Go, and after 48 hours, on 8 July, more than 5.16% of all Android devices in the US have installed the game.

Twitter left in the shade

It is not just the downloads, but the app engagement is what is even more interesting. SimilarWeb suggests that more than 60% of those who’ve downloaded Pokémon Go play it daily—this puts it at par with popular social network Twitter, and SimilarWeb says that according to the usage trend, Pokémon Go will eclipse Twitter’s daily active user figures quite comfortably.

Pokémon Go > instant messaging apps

According to SimilarWeb metrics recorded as of 8 July, Pokémon Go players on Android were playing an average of 43 minutes and 23 seconds per day, which is almost as much as the amount of time people spend on an average on social network Facebook, on a daily basis—Facebook reported on 5 May that the average time people spend daily on the social network is 50 minutes. Compared to some popular instant messaging apps, WhatsApp averages 30:27 minutes per day, Instagram captures attention for 25:16 minutes per day and Snapchat can only manage 22:53 minutes daily.

Windfall for Nintendo

Nintendo shares jumped as much as 34% in past few days of trading, ever since the game was released for iPhone and Android smartphones.

Pokémon takes over Spotify

Everyone seems so addicted to Pokémon Go, that they even want a soundtrack to go with the experience. On Spotify, the streams of Pokémon songs have more than tripled in the past week, according to the streaming service. The Pokémon theme Gotta Catch ‘Em All has been streamed 362% more globally, in the week which ended on 10 July, compared to the week earlier. Spotify users have generated 197,000 Pokémon playlists as well.

A cultural phenomenon

The first generation of Pokémon games took the world by storm in the late 1990s, widely known as “Pokémania". Over the years, Pokémon Red and Blue, came out in 1998, followed by Yellow in 1999 and Gold and Silver in 2000. There were also spin-offs such as Pokémon Snap and Pokémon Pinball in 1999, a TV show, multiple movies, and a whole bunch of other merchandise.

With great power comes great risk

With Pokémon Go only available in three countries at present, a lot of users are getting themselves into trouble by trying to get the game on their phone using unofficial methods. And cue those with a malicious intent to float an app that is a major security risk for your Android phone. Security company Proofpoint has warned that an infected Android version of the newly released mobile game is floating around on the internet. “This specific APK was modified to include the malicious remote access tool (RAT) called DroidJack (also known as SandroRAT), which would virtually give an attacker full control over a victim’s phone," they say.

A malicious app is not the only challenge posed by the new phenomenon—crime is a major problem. Police in O’Fallon, Missouri, have arrested four people, on suspicion of luring Pokémon Go players to secluded spots to rob them. “The way we believe it was used is you can add a beacon to a Pokestop to lure more players. Apparently they were using the app to locate people standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in," said the O’Fallon Police Department on its official Facebook page. Three were charged with first-degree robbery and armed criminal action; the fourth has been transferred to a nearby juvenile justice centre.

In Wyomin, US, 19-year-old Shayla Wiggins found a man’s corpse, while tracking a Pokémon. “I was walking towards the bridge along the shore when I saw something in the water. I had to take a second look and I realised it was a body," she told County 10 news.

We knew this was coming

Incidentally, the roots of this Pokémon Go can be found in a 2014 April Fool’s Day joke, in which Google has added an augmented reality layer to the Google Maps app, which allowed users to find more than 150 Pokémons. At that time, Niantic (known as Niantic Labs then) was an internal start-up at Google—it spun off as an independent entity in October 2015 after Google announced the restructuring of Alphabet Inc.

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Published: 12 Jul 2016, 11:33 AM IST
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