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I Choose You: The Rapid Rise of Pokémon Go

I Choose You: The Rapid Rise of Pokémon Go

“Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” the old adage goes for Nintendo’s wildly popular Pokémon franchise, and thanks to a new app, it’s currently catching the hearts and attention of people around the world who have always dreamed of becoming a Master Trainer. Today, we’re going to take a look at Pokémon Go, and try to figure out why it’s so popular, and where it goes from here:

First, some background:

Developed by Niantic, Pokémon Go is a location-based augmented reality game available on both iOS and Android devices. Players (“Trainers”) create their own profile, and from there, can capture and train their own collection of monsters, and then battle other users in designated “Gym” areas. What makes this unique? It’s all done out in the real world. Many Pokémon are location specific. If you want one, you’ll have to go out and explore for yourself. Once you gain enough experience points, you’ll be able to join one of three teams (Red, Blue, or Yellow), and battle it out for supremacy.

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The app is free to play, but supports in-app purchases for special items and more.

The game was released July 6 in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, and the impact was almost immediate. Its opening day was plagued with multiple server crashes due to high demand, which prompted Niantic to pause its international release until they could address these issues. The game was released in Germany about a week later.

How high was demand? Less than a week into its initial release, it became the fastest game to top the App Store and Google Play charts. It is estimated that there have been about 7.5 million downloads in the US alone. As of last Friday, Pokémon Go was installed on over 5% of Android devices, and based on daily users, has already surpassed popular apps such as Twitter and Snapchat.

From a business standpoint, Nintendo stock has surged 65% in the last week alone.

What’s driving Pokémon Go’s popularity? Someone people will point to the nostalgia factor. Pokémon as a gaming franchise is 20 years old, and many of its current players have fond memories of playing the original games on black and white Game Boy screens. Now they can experience it on a full color HD smartphone/tablet screen in the real world.

Others have been able to point to physical and psychological benefits. Many who suffer from anxiety and depression have said that the app has had a positive affect on their mental health, and that’s not even mentioning the social aspect of the game. A lot of people – mainly based around which team they chose – have arranged meet-ups with friends and other like-minded players in an effort to catch more Pokémon and boost their team’s strength.

Some people have even used it as a fitness solution. Since much of the game involves going out into the real world, it has become a convenient excuse to reach their respective step goals and get some exercise (EDITOR’S NOTE – There’s a local park that has made all of their “Pokéstops various areas of their fitness trail).

What’s next?

Several updates are expected to come sooner rather than later, including trading, more interactive features at Pokéstops, and patches for technical issues. As far as any future growth, that’s difficult to say. For now, enjoy this resurgence of Pokémon. Go outside, head to a park (and be mindful of your surroundings), meet up with friends or make a few new ones, and live out your childhood dream of catching ’em all.