Mon, Jul 25, 2016 - Page 6 News List

EDITORIAL: ‘Pokemon Go’ innovation a hit

The popularity of mobile augmented-reality game Pokemon Go is quickly growing around the world. Since its launch on July 7, the game has attracted hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic players from Australia to the US and from Europe to Japan, making it today’s most talked-about free-to-download mobile app.

Although it is still unknown when the game will hit Taiwan, in the past two weeks, a wave of searching for the virtual “pocket monsters” has swept across parts of the globe as players walk around their vicinity at all hours to “catch” the virtual creatures using location tracking on their mobile devices and “train” them for future battles.

Pokemon Go has become a phenomenon — at least for the time being — as it has renewed the world’s focus on mobile gaming.

The game set a new App Store record for most downloads during its first week of availability, according to technology blog iMore, which follows Apple Inc events.

Since players use PokeCoins, an in-game currency purchased through the App Store, to add items and upgrade their virtual monsters, Apple is expected to earn US$3 billion in revenue from the craze during the next 12 to 24 months as the game expands into more countries, New York-based brokerage Needham & Co predicted last week.

Nintendo Co has seen its shares almost double since the game’s debut earlier this month, with its market value surging to US$37.7 billion as of Friday, as investors welcomed the Japanese video game maker’s embrace of new gaming trends.

Some people view the game favorably, saying it encourages people to go outdoors rather than sitting at home in front of their TV screens or just fooling around on the Internet. Some retailers also welcome the phenomenon because it has in turn boosted sales of related outdoor activity items ranging from sneakers to sunscreen lotions to drinks and mobile device power bank products.

In Japan, McDonald’s last week announced it would make its outlets key locations as Pokemon “Gyms” or “PokeStops,” hoping the deal would help increase the fast-food chain’s sales around Japan in the process.

However, there are also warnings about various dangers facing players who have their eyes glued to their phones in pursuit of virtual creatures.

What cannot be denied is that Pokemon Go offers an example for people that digital and physical worlds can coexist and interact and, most importantly, it brings people together via the use of augmented reality, instead of isolating them in their own world on a virtual-reality platform.

In addition, the game has been seen as representing a new type of marketing and advertising strategy for mobile gaming, with analysts expecting more potential online-to-offline (O2O) business opportunities for mobile gaming following the McDonald’s deal in Japan.

Of course, no one knows whether Pokemon Go will follow in the way of past hit games, such as Happy Farm, Angry Birds or Candy Crush, as crazes come and go quickly in the online world, and whether innovations will come to a halt. However, the most important message to be taken from the Pokemon Go success is the years of collaboration among Nintendo, its subsidiary Pokemon Co, and US-based game developer Niantic Inc, as well as their pursuit of innovation, which has turned the game into a modern phenomenon through the convergence of smartphone cameras, augmented-reality platforms and location-based technology.

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