Why Is Pokémon GO Taking Over U.S., Australia and New Zealand?

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Jul 12 2016
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Shayla Wiggins, a 19-year-old Riverton resident, found a body floating in the Wind River while playing a game on her cell phone. Another was busy playing the same game while his wife was in labour. Even police in Missouri claimed that 4 suspected robbers were caught luring victims with the same game mentioned. So what’s this crazy game that is attacking United States of America?


The game is Pokémon, or to be precise – Pokémon GO.


Just 5 days since the game was unleashed, Japanese gaming giant Nintendo has seen its stock (stock-code: NTDOY) shoot up 57%. It’s market capitalization suddenly increased by US$10 billion. On Monday alone, the stock was up a whopping 33% after the closing bell. And it’s all because of one thing – Pokémon GO.

Nintendo - Stock Price Summary - 12July2016

It’s funny how everyone who didn’t give a damn about the 120-year-old gaming company is now rushing to grab its shares, and download its games. Last Wednesday, Nintendo launched Pokémon GO and it rocketed to become the No.1 free app in Apple’s (stock-code: AAPLUS iTunes store. That alone saw Nintendo share price jumped over 20% on Monday in Japan.


Japan’s Nintendo Co was best known for its characters such as Super Mario Bros and Pokémon. However their popularity was in the mid-1990s. Since then, they were quite dead, until today when the company, after much persuasion, introduced Pokémon GO in the form of mobile games – now available for a free download on Android and iOS.

Pokémon GO - Pokemon Mobile Game

When Pokémon was first debuted in 1996 on the Nintendo Game Boy, players, in a quest to become a Pokémon Master, would have to battle Pokémon, using already-captured Pokémon, in order to catch them. The new game, however, is much simpler and fun. Now, players can capture, battle, and train virtual Pokémon which appear throughout the “real world”.


Yes, players have to walk around in the real world to move their avatar, which had to be created when a player logging in for the first time, in the game. The avatar represents the player’s current location. Different Pokémon live in different areas of the world; that was how Ms. Shayla found a (real) dead body when she jumped over the fence to go towards the river in search of a Pokémon.

Shayla - Jumped Over a Fence to Get to The Pokemon

Unlike the old 1996 version of Pokémon, the new mobile game relies on a unique capture system where the player must throw a Pokéball with the right force and at the right time to make a successful catch. Don’t be surprise when you see more and more people staring at their screen and trip into manholes, bump into people or gets hit by cars.


In the handheld games, like the old Pokémon, you simply use a controller to move around the in-game world the developers have made. However, in Pokémon Go, you have to travel around the real word, and the game uses your GPS and clock to detect your location on the in-game map and decide which Pokémon appear around you.

Pokémon GO - Pokemon Mobile Game on iPhone iOS

For example, if you go out to a park, you’ll probably see more grass-type Pokémon. If you go near a lake or ocean, you’ll be able to pick up more water types. And if you go out at night, you’ll see more night-time-fairy and ghost types. At PokéStops, you can grab items, including Pokéballs and eggs that can hatch into full Pokémon. To hatch the eggs, you have to walk to “incubate” them; 5 kilometers, etc.


Because Pokémon GO uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you are in the game and make Pokémon “appear” around you so you can go and catch them, it means you’re essentially exposed to security risks. Although Pokémon is not real but virtual, the bad guys are real and the Pokémon provides them an easy access to targets.

Pokémon GO - Pokemon Mobile Game at Park

And when the local police call your dad, mom or even yourself, it means someone related to you have either been robbed, or been going to the station trying to capture the mythical creature (*grin*). Analytics firm SimilarWeb said the number of daily active users is already nearly on par with Twitter. That means more zombies will be roaming the street.


Back to the game – after capturing a wild Pokémon, the player is awarded two types of in-game currencies: candies and stardust, which can be used to raise a Pokémon’s “combat power”. Players earn experience points for a number of in-game actions. As the player earns experience points, they will raise in level.

Pokémon GO - Pokemon Mobile Game - Catching Pokemon and Egg

At level 5, the player is able to battle at a Pokémon gym and join one of three teams (red, blue or yellow) which act as larger factions within the Pokémon Go world.  A team can upgrade the prestige of a gym under their control by battling the gym leader. If a player enters a Pokémon gym not under their team, they can challenge the leader to lower the gym’s “prestige”, and eventually take control of the gym.


How does Nintendo make money from this free mobile game? As Pokémon GO charges money to buy more Pokéballs, you can expect children to buy up balls using credit card. Players would be rushing to build their Pokémon inventory; hence they would be spending money to store, train, hatch and battle. Its estimated Nintendo is earning US$3.9 million to US$4.9 million – a day – from sales of “special items”.

Pokémon GO - Pokemon Mobile Game - Addicted Players At Park

The game is designed to be addictive, and it is succeeding. But it’s not for children only. Adults were reportedly skipping their lunch break hunting Pokémon. The fact that Nintendo has actually stopped rolling out to new countries, after launching Pokémon GO in the US, Australia and New Zealand, speaks volumes about the game’s mind-boggling success.


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