For those of us that still don't know what Pokemon Go is, here is an explanation courtesy of Wikipedia
Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic and published by The Pokémon Company. It was released in July 2016 for iOS and Android devices.
The game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world. It makes use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices. The game is free-to-play, although it supports in-app purchases of additional gameplay items. An optional companion Bluetooth wearable device is planned for future release, the Pokémon Go Plus, and will alert users when Pokémon are nearby.
The game quickly became one of the most used smart device apps after launching, surpassing the previous record held by Candy Crush Saga in the United States, and was a boon to the stock value of Nintendo. It has brought augmented reality to the mainstream, and was praised by some medical professionals for potentially improving the mental and physical health of players, but also attracted some controversy due to reports of causing accidents and being a public nuisance at some locations.
After logging into the app for the first time, the player creates their avatar. The player can choose the avatar's gender, hair, skin, and eye color, and choose from a limited number of outfits. After the avatar is created, it is displayed at the player's current location along with a map of the player's immediate surroundings. Features on the map include a number of PokéStops and Pokémon gyms. These are typically located at public parks and fountains, public art installations, historical markers, historic buildings, cenotaphs and other memorials, places of worship, and other points of cultural significance; these locations are repurposed Ingress portals, Niantic's previous augmented reality game.
As players travel the real world, their avatar moves along the game's map. Different Pokémon species reside in different areas of the world; for example, water-type Pokémon are generally found near water. When a player encounters a Pokémon, they may view it either in augmented reality (AR) mode or with a live rendered, generic background. AR mode uses the camera and gyroscope on the player's mobile device to display an image of a Pokémon as though it were in the real world. Players can take screen shots of the Pokémon they encounter either with or without the AR mode activated.
Unlike other installments in the Pokémon series, players in Pokémon Go do not battle wild Pokémon to capture them. During an encounter with a wild Pokémon, the player may throw a Poké Ball at it. If the Pokémon is successfully caught, it will come under the ownership of the player. Factors in the success rate of capture include the right force, the right time and the type of Poké Ball used. After capturing a wild Pokémon, the player is awarded two types of in-game currencies: candies and stardust. The candies awarded by a successful catch depends on what evolutionary chain a Pokémon belongs to. A player can use stardust and candies to raise a Pokémon's "combat power" (CP). However, only candies are needed to evolve a Pokémon. Each Pokémon evolution tree has its own type of candy which can only be used to evolve or level up. The player can also transfer the Pokémon back to the Pokémon professor to earn one more candy and create room for more Pokémon. The ultimate goal of the game is to complete the entries in the Pokédex, a comprehensive Pokémon encyclopedia, by capturing and evolving to obtain the original 151 Pokémon.
All Pokémon are displayed with a combat power. A Pokémon's combat power is a rough measure of how powerful that Pokémon is in battle. Not all Pokémon of the same species will have the same CP. Generally, as a player levels up they will catch Pokémon with higher CP.
Players earn experience points (XP) for various in-game activities. Players rise in level as they earn experience points. At level five, the player is able to battle at a Pokémon gym and join one of three teams (red for Team Valor, which uses Moltres as their mascot; blue for Team Mystic, which uses Articuno as their mascot; or yellow for Team Instinct, which uses Zapdos as their mascot) which act as larger factions within the Pokémon Go world. If a player enters a Pokémon gym that is controlled by a player that is not part of their team, they can challenge the leader to lower the gym's "prestige". Once the prestige of a gym is lowered to zero then the player will take control of the gym and is able to deposit one Pokémon to defend it. Similarly, a team can upgrade the prestige of a gym under their control by battling the gym leader.
Although the game is free-to-play, it supports in-app purchases of Poké Balls and other items. By July 14, the ability to submit requests for new PokéStops and gyms was added to the game's support page, but Niantic was not accepting submissions and when a PokéStop or gym was requested, the user received an email saying "Thanks for your interest in adding PokéStops and Gyms to Pokémon GO, while we're not currently accepting new submissions, we'll keep your city in mind in the future".
Pokémon Go Plus
The Pokémon Go Plus is a Bluetooth low energy wearable device that allows players to perform certain actions in the game without looking at their smart device. When a player is near a Pokémon or PokéStop, the Plus vibrates. The player can then press the button to capture the Pokémon; the player cannot check what they have caught until the device is connected to an appropriate mobile device. It is set for release sometime in July 2016. The design is a combination of a Poké Ball and the shape of the Google Maps pin. The decision to create the device rather than create a smart watch app was to increase uptake among players for whom a smart watch is prohibitively expensive.The Plus, which had a pre-order cost of $34.99, was being listed on eBay for over $100 after Amazon, GameStop and the official Pokémon store sold out.
On March 4, 2016, Niantic announced a Japan-exclusive beta test would begin later that month, allowing players to assist in refining the game before its full release. The beta test was later expanded to other countries. On April 7, it was announced that the beta would expand to Australia and New Zealand. Then, on May 16, the signups for the field test were opened to the United States. The test came to an end on June 30.The concept for the game was conceived in 2014 by Satoru Iwata of Nintendo and Tsunekazu Ishihara of The Pokémon Company as an April Fools' Day collaboration with Google, called Pokémon Challenge. Ishihara had been a fan of developer Niantic's previous augmented reality game, Ingress, and saw the game's concept as a perfect match for the Pokémon series. Niantic used data from Ingress to populate the locations for PokéStops and gyms within Pokémon Go. In 2015, Ishihara dedicated his speech at the game's announcement on September 10 to Iwata, who had died two months earlier. The game's soundtrack was written by longtime Pokémonseries composer, Junichi Masuda, who also assisted with some of the game's design. Among the game's visual designers was Dennis Hwang, who had previously worked at Google and created the logo of Gmail.
The game was released in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States on July 6, 2016. Due to server strain from high demand upon release, Niantic CEO John Hanke stated that the release in most other regions was "paused until Niantic was comfortable" fixing the issues. Pokémon Go was released in Germany on July 13, in the United Kingdom on July 14, and in Italy, Spain and Portugal on July 15. Pokémon Go was released in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic,Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland on July 16.
In South Korea, like most other Asian countries, Pokémon Go has not been released yet. However, due to a glitch, in a small area around Sokcho in the northeastern area of the country the game is playable due to the Niantic's mapping. This part of South Korea is part the North Korean mapping of the game. Numerous people have taken advantage of the gap to play the game. Bus tickets from the capital city of Seoul sold out and people living within Sokcho shared information on free Wi-Fi areas to tourists. Players also discovered a gym in Panmunjom, North Korea, along the Korean Demilitarized Zone; however, Niantic later removed it from the game.
In China, Google services are banned by the Great Firewall. Players of Pokémon Go in China bought Australian App Store IDs and used a GPS spoofing app to use Google services and because there are no Pokémon to catch in China. Many Chinese people downloaded a clone known as City Spirit Go, which was released shortly after Pokémon Go's beta test in Japan.
Upon 24 hours after its release, Pokémon Go topped the American App Store's "Top Grossing" and "Free" charts. The game has become the fastest game to top the App Store and Google Play, beating Clash Royale. Within two days of release, it was installed on more than 5% of Android devices in the United States, according to SimilarWeb. On July 12, the game became the most active mobile game in the United States ever with 21 million active users, eclipsing Candy Crush Saga's peak of 20 million. The average daily usage of the app on Android devices exceeded Snapchat, Tinder, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. By July 15, approximately 1.3 million people were playing the game in the Netherlands, despite the app not being officially released in the country. In the week following the game's release, Australian servers had problems in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane due to the game's popularity.
Investors were buoyed by the response to the initial release of Pokémon Go on July 7, with Nintendo's share price rising by an initial 10% and by July 14 shares had risen to as high as 50%. Despite Nintendo only owning a 33% stake in the Pokémon franchise and will receive only 30% of the Pokémon Go sales revenue, the post-release share price rise amounted to increase in value of approximately $14.5 billion. Nintendo's market value increased by US$9 billion within five days of release of Pokémon Go. TheFinancial Times believed that investors were speculating not on Pokémon Go as such, but on future Nintendo app releases being as successful as the company moves more into the mobile app market—an area they were historically reluctant to enter in the belief it would damage its portable console sales. Nintendo plans to release four more smartphone app games by March 2017, and investors remarked that Pokémon Go showed Nintendo still has some of the "most valuable character intellectual property in the world" with franchises such as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid. The surge in stocks extended beyond just Nintendo, with First Baking Co., Tomy, TV Tokyo, and Bank of Kyoto all seeing significant to near-record gains.
Some early iOS installs of Pokémon Go required users to provide the app with full access to their Google accounts, thereby allowing the app to "access players' Gmail-based email, Google Drive-based files, photos and videos stored in Google Photos, and any other content within their Google accounts". The Pokémon Company and Niantic responded to the concerns, recognizing that the iOS app, at the time, "...erroneously requests full access permission for the user's Google account..." A subsequent iOS app update reduced the scope of access.
On July 16, 2016, the servers of the game temporarily went down. A hacking group called "PoodleCorp" claimed that they brought down the servers with a DDOS attack.
Pokémon Go received mixed reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Upon release, critics called the experience enjoyable, but noted the game's technical issues.
Critics praised various aspects of Pokémon Go. Oscar Dayus (Pocket Gamer) said that the game was an immensely enjoyable experience and continued with how "the very personal nature of catching Pokémon in your own neighborhood made me smile more than any game has for years". Jeremy Parish (US Gamer) compared the game and its social aspects to a massively multiplayer online game. Reviewers also praised the game enabling the promotion of physical exercise. Terri Schwartz (IGN) said it was "secretly the best exercise app out there" and that it changed her daily walking routine. Patrick Allen (Lifehacker) wrote an article with tips about how to workout using Pokémon Go. Julia Belluz (Vox) said it could be the "greatest unintentional health fad ever" and wrote that one of the results of the game that the developers may not have realized was that "it seems to be getting people moving".
Philip Kollar and Allegra Frank (Polygon) both agreed that "Pokémon Go is an exciting social experience" though they said they were not sure how long the game would last, and depending on how frequently Niantic updates it, it could either last for coming years or end up as "a brush fire craze that the whole gaming world is talking about for a few weeks and then is forgotten".
Other critics had a more negative opinion of the game, with many of them citing frequent crashes and other technical issues, along with shallow gameplay. Kallie Plagge (IGN) said that despite the game lacking in polish and depth, the overall experience made up for it. Matt Peckham (Time) criticized the game for its frequent crashes. Mike Cosimano (Destructoid) also had major issues with the game and said the original idea had promise, but it was improperly executed. Kat Brewster (The Guardian) wrote that although she thought Pokémon Go was not a good game, it was "a great experience". The server problems also received negative press. Miguel Concepcion (GameSpot) said despite him enjoying the game's strong social appeal and visual design, the game's "initial iteration is a buggy mess on all levels", with one of the reasons being the constant server problems.
Community and cultural impact
The massive popularity of the game (due in part to Millennial nostalgia from the Game Boy era) has resulted in several unusual positive impacts. For example, the game has serendipitously enabled players to help catch criminals and to report crimes in progress, and has even aided law enforcement's community relations, albeit with caveats. Businesses have benefited from the nearby presence of PokéStops (or their being PokéStops themselves) with the concomitant influx of people. On July 15 Yelp added a filter that only shows businesses which have a PokéStop nearby. National parks across the United States saw an influx of visitors due to the game, with "hundreds or thousands" of people visiting the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. on the weekend following Pokémon Go's release in the country. Small museums with PokéStops placed at exhibits also reported increased attendance, such as the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, and the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Boca Raton Florida. Some establishments considered purchasing lures in the game to attract additional players to PokéStops on their property. Charity organizations also sought engagement from players, with animal shelters offering dog walks to people who want to hatch eggs. Wireless provider T-Mobile US started an offer for free data for a year for Pokémon Go sessions,
The app was criticized for using locations such as cemeteries and memorials as sites to catch Pokémon, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and Arlington National Cemetery. The game sparked complaints from Dutch company ProRail, who said that players had entered their railway tracks, and fire stations told players to not impede their staff by congregating outside. The game's distribution of PokéStops and gyms (derived from the portals of Ingress, a previous science fiction-themed Niantic augmented reality game) has been noted to be sparser in many minority neighborhoods in a reflection of American demographics. Residents of the Sydney suburb of Rhodes became fed up with large numbers of players gathering in their area, and threw waterbombs at visiting players.
The game has been referred to as a "social media phenomenon" which has brought people together from all walks of life. The game has been noted as having made augmented reality mainstream. Several universities reported their students using the app. Due to the popularity of the game, the "Pokémon Theme" from the animated series had a 630% increase in listeners on music streaming platform Spotify during the month of the game's release. Meanwhile, steaming services such as Hulu have experienced an increased viewership of the Pokemon series and films. Within a week of its release a secondary market had been engendered by the game, both for the resell of high-level accounts on Craigslist and PlayerUp, and for the sale of expert advice on Thumbtack.Multiple police departments in various countries have issued warnings, some tongue-in-cheek, regarding inattentive driving, trespassing, and being targeted by criminals due to being unaware of one's surroundings. Several people have suffered various injuries from accidents related to the game.
Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, stated that he hoped the app was released in Brazil before the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics in the city, and United States presidential candidates Donald Trump andHillary Clinton mentioned the app during their 2016 election campaigns.
Effects on health
It has been suggested that Pokémon Go can potentially improve the mental and physical health of players suffering from depression and social anxiety. According to Kashmira Gander of The Independent, the social nature of the game provides easy avenues for those with social anxiety to interact with people of all backgrounds. Numerous players also reported increased motivation to exercise and improved moods. Dr. John Grohol, founder of Psych Central, stated thatPokémon Go was unique in the magnitude of people "expressing the benefits of playing video games to their real-world mental health status". According to Grohol, the game facilitates exercise and creates a "strong reinforcement for people to go out and become more active". He also attributed the premise of the game, social interaction and fun rather than for exercise, as a key factor in its success. In contrast, Professor Daniel Freeman of Oxford University asserted that clinical studies were required to make definitive claims over the mental health benefits of Pokémon Go and other augmented reality games.