Positives and Negatives of the Pokémon Go Phenomenon

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-07-15
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Positives and Negatives of the Pokémon Go Phenomenon
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    Positives and Negatives of the Pokémon Go Phenomenon

    The wildly popular Pokémon Go has introduced augmented reality to millions of players. Here are some of the positives and negatives to the game.
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    Nintendo Is Enjoying a Surprising Resurgence
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    Nintendo Is Enjoying a Surprising Resurgence

    Many gaming industry analysts had all but given up on Nintendo's fortunes. However, the company is now enjoying a sudden resurgence with the launch of Pokémon Go, proving that a 20-year-old franchise such as Pokémon can be a hit as a revitalized augmented reality game on smartphones and tablets. Nintendo's core console business may still be struggling, but Pokémon Go's success has added billions to its valuation.
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    Augmented Reality Has a Future
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    Augmented Reality Has a Future

    Augmented reality hasn't received nearly as much attention as virtual reality, but it's clear now that it should. In fact, the success of Pokémon Go could prove to be the killer app for augmented reality that triggers a boom in developing games and other augmented reality software. Pokémon Go is just the tip of the iceberg for augmented reality.
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    Niantic Labs Has Built a Gigantic Business
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    Niantic Labs Has Built a Gigantic Business

    Niantic Labs had modest success before Pokémon Go hit the market, but now, the company has become the hottest mobile developer in the industry. With one game, Niantic has established itself as the leader in augmented reality that big brands will want to visit if they plan to create a Pokémon Go-like app.
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    Google Is Reaping the Rewards of Its Niantic Labs Investment
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    Google Is Reaping the Rewards of Its Niantic Labs Investment

    Niantic Labs was founded as a startup inside Google. However, after Alphabet was formed and Google became a subsidiary of Alphabet, Niantic was spun off into its own operation. Just a month after the spinoff, Niantic announced its plans to develop Pokémon Go last year, and Google, Nintendo and the Pokémon Co. invested a reported $30 million to help Niantic get the game to market. Thus, Google and its fellow investors are sitting on a very good investment in Niantic Labs.
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    It's the Most Popular U.S. Game Launch in History
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    It's the Most Popular U.S. Game Launch in History

    According to data released by survey service Survey Monkey, at its peak, Pokémon Go had 21 million gamers playing the game, making it the most successful mobile video game launch in U.S. history. The game is far more successful than Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds and other mobile games that were addictive hits. And it took less than a week to achieve that goal.
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    Free Apps Can Make Boatloads of Cash
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    Free Apps Can Make Boatloads of Cash

    There has been rampant speculation over the business models that would carry mobile apps into the future and whether companies should charge customers to download their apps. Now it's clear that free apps can work. According to some estimates, Niantic is making more than $1 million per day on Pokémon Go, despite it being a free download. The company has generated that cash through in-app purchases of PokeCoins. In one fell swoop, Niantic Labs has confirmed that free apps can be huge financial successes.
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    Criminals Always Find Ways to Take Advantage of Success
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    Criminals Always Find Ways to Take Advantage of Success

    Pokémon Go also has been the reason for a recent uptick in crime, according to reports. Several police stations around the country report criminals luring Pokémon Go players into alleys or tracking them through the game to commit armed robberies, carjackings and other crimes. Police agencies have become so concerned that they have issued public warnings for people to take precautions when walking around town and playing the game.
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    Watch Where You Step (and Drive)
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    Watch Where You Step (and Drive)

    Pokémon Go also has been the cause of serious injury-causing accidents. There have been several reports around the United States of drivers playing Pokémon Go when they crashed into other cars or even trees. Still others have paid too much attention to their phones, only to walk into dangerous areas and suffer injuries. News reports on July 14 said two men fell off a beachside cliff near Encinitas, Calif., while playing the game. Both men required hospitalization.
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    Even Big-Time Social Apps Can't Match Pokémon Go
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    Even Big-Time Social Apps Can't Match Pokémon Go

    Despite those drawbacks, Pokémon Go has been an unbridled success. According to data from SimilarWeb, Pokémon Go's daily active user count is higher than popular social apps including Twitter and LinkedIn as well as music-streaming app Spotify. For now, there's no telling when its download count and usage might slow.
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    Pokémon Go Presents New Business Opportunities
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    Pokémon Go Presents New Business Opportunities

    Seeing the potential for business opportunities with Pokémon Go, many companies have set plans into motion. Local cafés and restaurants have made their locations Pokémon-friendly to lure customers into their stores. Meanwhile, reports have surfaced saying big ad agencies are looking for ways to display ads in the game. Pokémon Go has created a whole new way of marketing to prospective customers and businesses.
 

In Pokémon Go, Nintendo, the Pokémon Co. and Niantic Labs have created not only the biggest game launch of the year, but also the biggest mobile game to ever launch in the United States—and, soon perhaps, the biggest ever in the world. Since its launch on July 6, millions of people around the globe have tried out Pokémon Go, collected Pokémon characters, trained them and walked around cities and suburbs to find where they might be hiding. All the while, they've been given perhaps their first significant opportunity to explore augmented reality technology and discover what some are calling a truly addictive experience. In turn, the game has generated millions of dollars in revenue, put Niantic Labs on the map and added billions to Nintendo's market valuation. On the downside, criminals have taken aim at players and there have been several reported accidents reportedly caused by people playing the game while driving their vehicles. Altogether, Pokémon Go has become an astonishing cultural phenomenon. This eWEEK slide show covers the positive and negative aspects of the Pokémon Go phenomenon.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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