If you haven’t yet noticed, Pokemon Go is taking over the world. It is a free smartphone game, based on the popular Pokemon cartoon series where you catch pocket monsters, train them and battle them against others. The game has gone wildly viral, getting more active users and engagement than even Twitter, Facebook and Tinder. Nintendo, the company which made the app has seen its valuation soar by $7.5 billion in one week. These are phenomenal achievements and it is worth taking a look at the underlying dynamics.
There are various reasons for the game’s success including social media and timing. However, the biggest two reasons have been: Branding and Augmented Reality. A decade ago, children from across the world were glued to the TV screens, watching the protagonist Ash catch Pokemons. Today, the word Pokemon spurs nostalgia and makes instant connection with the present youth, the biggest chunk of smartphone users. However, there have been several Pokemon games in the past that have come and failed.
The difference this time is augmented reality, where a virtual reality is augmented in your actual surroundings. You don’t sit on a couch and catch imaginary Pokemons in a virtual landscape, but have to walk around the town trying to spot them in a garden or a cafe as if they are really there. The line between the virtual and the real has blurred ever so slightly, creating a user experience like never before.
The game itself might stay or fade, but augmented reality will thrive. These projects have till now been restricted to special movie effects or expensive headsets by and large, but with Pokemon Go we have seen a glimpse of the enormous possibilities that accessible affordable augmented reality presents.
In a few years’ time, every aspect of our life will be touched by augmented reality, a mix of the virtual and the real. We have barely started scratching its surface and the results are for all to see.
Originally published for the Dainik Bhaskar Group on 25th July, 2016.