Why is Pokémon GO So Popular?

Pokemon Go

If you haven’t heard of Pokemon GO, what rock have you been hiding under? So for anyone who doesn’t know, Pokemon GO is the latest Pokemon game. The aim of the game is to catch them all, just like any other Pokemon game, but you also have to take over gyms from other teams. Pokemon GO allows you to evolve Pokemon and make them stronger, this means that you can take over gyms and maintain them for longer periods of time without anyone being able to take them over. So to summarise, the objective of Pokemon GO is not just to catch them all and be the very best like no one ever was, but to support whichever team you choose and help your team become the very best.

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm within the past week, it has had more downloads than twitter! For a mobile game this is amazing, also not forgetting Nintendo wasn’t affiliated with the creation. Pokemon GO was developed by Niantic Labs, a company that has spun out from Google. They have made a couple of games in the past, both focusing on ‘Real world gaming’. These games use smartphone technology to the maximum, they use your location and make it seem as if you are in real life. Locations can be used as objectives and a point of interest on your map, for example in Pokemon GO, Pokestops are monuments or places of significance within your area. These games use less of a fictional world and immerse you into a surreal experience. Niantic Labs is more of an indie company than anything, they aren’t massive but like most indie companies they produce quality content, and Pokemon GO exceeded my expectations.

Pokemon Go

The main question of this article is why is Pokemon GO so popular? Why has this game made a whopping 14 billion dollars in its first week? For starters for any game, whether it’s indie or AAA it is astounding to make 14 billion dollars within the first week, you have to remember the game is free and 14 billion dollars is only from micro transactions alone, which makes it an even more incredible statistic. Now onto my favourite part of this article. Explaining why Pokemon GO is so popular amongst gamers. For me the first thing that dragged me into the game was the AR (Augmented Reality), the fact that a Charmander was sitting in my room and I could throw a Pokeball to catch it, it really made the game feel realistic and it gave the game a personal feel. Already you get into the game and it uses your location, so when you walk down your street, your character walks down your street. After 5 minutes of walking and catching Pokemon I was already living my childhood dream, and I bet that goes for everyone who is playing it (who is actually a Pokemon fan). Niantic Labs have created a phenomenal game, which has done what no other game has done before, it has encouraged people to go outside and be a part of a community, it goes against the stereotypical view of gamers, that we always stay inside and don’t have a social life. When I go into my city centre, I see people everywhere playing it, yesterday I was sitting down and I had seen a man in a wheelchair playing Pokemon GO and it was truly an amazing thing to see. As well as this you see random people comparing their Pokemon with other strangers, this game has truly brought everyone together.

Pokemon GO also helps with health, I know that in the gaming community some people to have health problems, whether they can be physically seen or if they are mental health issues. As I said earlier, Pokemon GO encourages people to go outside rather than staying inside. Hopefully, with more people being encouraged to go out it can help against any form of health issue, personally knowing people with mental health issues it is a great thing to see them get out of the house and have them doing something they enjoy to take their mind away from normal day to day life for a while. Also fitness can be increased because of the eggs you get, they require you to walk a distance of either 2km, 5km or 10km. You are not able to use a vehicle to travel this distance as it doesn’t count towards the distance you have walked. Niantic Labs have truly formed a community that no matter who you are, you are welcome in. In the picture below which was taken from the pier in Los Angeles, now unfortunately in America their community is bigger than over here in the UK. But you can see everyone on their phones playing Pokemon GO, showing a connected community of gamers.

Pokemon Go

Image Source: Captured on YouTube.

Another reason why Pokemon GO is so popular is how the Pokemon are actually in specific locations. You couldn’t just stumble upon a Magikarp in the middle of a car park, you would have to be near water to get one. This is what adds to the realism of it all, that it makes you travel to find those Pokemon you need to get, it makes you explore places that you might not have been before. I have been travelling for hours and walking to see what Pokemon are in different areas and I have gone to bodies of water to try and get water Pokemon. As I said before it is encouraging people to go out more and to explore anywhere you want to in the hopes of catching various Pokemon. At the end of the article I will include a list of where to find the various types of Pokemon. We also can’t forget that YouTube stars are playing it now, more and more people will see it and want to get it if they haven’t already, stars such as TheSyndicateProject/SyndicateCentral depending on whether you watch his vlogs or gaming videos (who let me use a screenshot from his video so massive thank you to him), Ali-A, PewDiePie and many more.

Now I want this paragraph to be dedicated to you indie developers out there who are reading this. Pokemon GO was made by an indie company and look at the success it has had and it will carry on being successful for a long time to come because they are already working on their next update for the game. It is showing how your game can be just as successful, you can achieve more than any AAA game if you give your time, effort and determination into the game. I believe that Pokemon GO should be used as a role model towards indie companies, because it is showing what you can achieve. For me indie companies deserve a lot more recognition than they get (which is a reason why Orange Bison is here) and playing some indie games, you truly see what can be done from such a small group of people. I have played indie games better than AAA games, and to think some of these indie games are made from as little as a one man team is amazing to know. So if you are an indie developer reading this then go on, smash that game you’re making. To quote Marty Mcfly (who was quoting doc) in Back to the Future, “You can do anything if you put your mind to it”.

Pokemon Go

Pokemon GO has revolutionised gaming in my opinion, it has brought us all together, from die hard Pokemon fans to people who are only just being introduced to the game. It has created a thriving community like no other and it has truly opened up a new path for mobile gaming, AR can be a hit in the future as well alongside VR. I am hoping that this game can still be alive in years to come, maybe one day we will get a Major League Pokemon tournament (this is a great idea and could actually work). But for the last bit of this article I would like you to cast your minds back to the 1st of April 2014, Google had released a video saying that they had a job role for someone to become a Pokemon master, and in the video there was people going into different terrains to capture these Pokemon. They caught them using their phones and using AR. Sound familiar? This at the time was obviously an April Fools prank, but watching it now Pokemon GO is out, was it really a prank? All of it is similar, also if you look carefully you can see the Pokemon GO Plus (which is a google maps symbol with a pokeball design) this item will be released soon for Pokemon GO. Also not forgetting Niantic Labs came from Google. Ask yourself this, was this video really a prank or was it a hint for what was coming in the future?

Pokemon Go

List of where to find the different Pokemon:

  • Fire types can be found at gas stations and during sunny days.
  • Water types at lakes and other bodies of water as well as when it is raining.
  • Electric types are found near transforming stations and during thunderstorms (Do not go out and play Pokemon Go while there is lightning as it is dangerous). Also goes without saying do not go inside transforming stations!
  • Ghost types can be found at night (even though some can be found during the day).
  • Grass, bug and normal types can be found in parks and other green areas.
  • Normal types can also be found in urban areas.
I am a passionate gamer who has spent the majority of my life gaming. I enjoy reviewing the games I play, as well as actually playing the game to its full potential. I spend most of my free time playing video games and reading comics (especially DC) listening to music and also doing my own YouTube videos. I enjoy playing any type of games, such as RPG and FPS. I hope to actually become a game developer in the future if all goes to plan, or if my career changes then a video game journalist would also be amazing.

2 Comments

  1. Very interesting that you see some gamers as having mental health issues (just like any other group) and that games like Pokémon GO may act as part of a solution to help them. Only a few pioneers like Jane McGonigal have realised this. But to me it makes a lot of sense. Mental illness is a difficult, dark topic. Why not gamify it to provide motivation and fun along the road to wellness?

    Reply
    • I do see metal illness as a dark topic, but for me I’ve been around it for years (which isn’t something good) and I’ve seen the effects that little things can do to help ‘heal’ a person with mental illness. Pokemon GO happens to be one of those things, that within the gaming community can be a great help to anyone with mental illness because rather than the person being inside all the time it is encouraging them to go out and do what they wouldn’t do. This is why I wish more games would provide more of an adventuring experience in real life, so people with mental illness can go out and not be scared, not be nervous or anxious. I believe that all the little things in life count, because it can distract people who have mental health problems from the problem. I also wish that mental health will one day be recognised by everyone as a general health problem because I see people with mental health problems who are too scared to speak out because of the fear of being judged by parents etc (I’m not saying you should go telling everyone you’re suffering depression or another illness so don’t take that the wrong way). Honestly, I do believe the gaming community help a lot combating mental illness, because the games give a chance to uncover a new world or build a new world. They help us socialise with anyone and everyone, and with my own eyes I’ve seen strangers talk to other strangers about the Pokemon they have just caught.

      So for final bit of this, I believe that games can be utilised to help combat mental illness directly, Pokemon GO has saved lives and I wish other games in the future can do the same for people. Apologies for going on with myself a bit here, it’s just a topic close to my heart.

      Reply

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