What is Pokemon Go? Why is This “Social Media Platform” Bigger than Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook?

What is Pokemon Go? Why is This “Social Media Platform” Bigger than Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook?

If you’re a gamer, it’s a foregone conclusion that you’ve discovered this app. If you’re not fancy any games but you’re following the news, you might have heard about it. Pokemon GO is the hottest app in the world right now. It’s time for you and I to learn more about it – and try it, maybe?

It’s in the media, but how huge is Pokemon GO, actually? Well, here’s one thing to get you thinking: It has topped the average daily usage of Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – and it shows no sign of slowing down.

In fact, TechCruch reported that Pokemon GO has more engagement than Facebook. Mind-boggling and awe-inspiring.

It’s a global craze, really: Everytime Pokemon GO is released in a country, it goes viral and break records. Crashed server, media coverage and everything else in between are common occurrences. It’s not only the talk of the town, but it’s also the talk of the whole country.

But what is Pokemon GO, anyway? What’s with all the craze?

What is Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO is a free Augmented Reality (AR) mobile game app, played locally. It meshes real life environment with in-game environment.

Pokemon GO screenshots
Image credit: Google Play store

If you’re familiar with Pokemon (gotta catch ’em all!) it’s just like the good, ol’ Pokemon games and movies you played and watched two decades ago.

The idea is pretty similar: You lure and capture cute and cool monsters (Pokemon). Not only that, you can train your Pokemon, join a group or team (called ‘Gym’) and battle with the members of other Gyms.

Those are cool, but what makes Pokemon GO a viral-factor is the augmented reality feature of it. You’re not doing all of those in a game environment: You catch a Pokemon by actually spotting it on your map and physically go to the location.

Not only capturing it in your local area (powered by Google Maps,) but you can also look for Poke Stops, where you can get more Pokeballs (used to lure and capture Pokemon,) coins, and other in-game stuffs.

There are also Pokemon GO Gyms. If you’ve reached Level 5, you can go to Gyms (again, via GPS, using Google Maps, to real world locations) and join one of three gyms.

I don’t want to confuse you even more with game jargons, so I stop talking about it here. So, the whole idea is this: With Pokemon Go, you play a mobile game which requires you to go physically to particular locations to get something.

There’s no better way to explain it than watching it in action – here’s Pokemon GO’s first try by one of the most popular Let’s Play YouTubers, Lachlan:

Got it? Now…

Why is Pokemon Go “social media platform” such a big hit?

Reason #1: Nostalgia

Some experts try to explain the phenomena, but please allow me to put it this way: It’s nostalgia, and it reminds you of the past times. We can’t deny that Pokemon is such a successful brand – kids of the mid-90’s are familiar with them.

Reason #2: Good for social interaction

Then it’s the social aspect of the game. It’s easy to consider Pokemon GO as a hybrid social media platform. Not only playing a multiplayer game, you actually go to a place (a Poke Stop) where you unintentionally hang out with dozens of other Pokemon GO players.

Not only that, families are praising Pokemon GO as an app that actually allow them to play as a family – with kids teaming up to find Pokemon and parents try to look for the coolest Poke Stops in the area.

Reason #3: Good for business

No wonder businesses are starting to see this trend and set up a Poke Stop right inside the business premise. According to Inc.’s author Walter Chen, local businesses benefit greatly from Pokemon GO, stating that it’s boosting footfalls to stores and restaurants that cost only about $1.19 an hour.

Reason #4: It’s AR

Augmented Reality (AR) is always interesting, as it combines what we see with the images and animations from the app. Combine that with the popularity of Pokemon – and with good execution – you’ll get an almost guaranteed hit.

Reason #5: It’s Nintendo

Okay, the game is released by Niantic, but the IP is owned by Nintendo (who gets around 30 percent share of revenue from Pokemon GO.) Nintendo is an iconic game developer that’s not that responsive to the trends in the gaming world. It seemed to ignore mobile gaming’s explosive growth completely – but not anymore.

Imagine what would happen when Super Mario, yet another huge brand by Nintendo, is launched as an augement reality game, just like Pokemon GO.

Reason #6: The media

Just like everything else that goes viral, the media coverage on Pokemon Go only helps the game to reach new highs. ’nuff said.

Reason #7: It’s good for your health

It seems funny, but Pokemon GO has helped some players to become healthier – lose weight, relieve stress and treat social anxiety. The game unintentionally get people to move around, looking for Pokemon, Poke Stops and Gyms – which in turn makes them healthier.

Reason #8: It’s controversial

Accidents. Armed robberies. Sighting of strangers near your home. And other awkward situations and places. Pokemon GO’s critics say that the app raises some concerns, especially the safety aspect.

Takeaway

So, there you go – a brief unofficial guide to Pokemon GO, and its impact as a game-slash-social-platform-slash-health app. Maybe it’s too early to predict when will the fun (or madness, whichever your view on the game is) end, but one thing for sure, it’s yet another example of how a “simple” concept with adequate execution can change how people approach gaming and socializing.

A business model to learn from, in my opinion.

Now over to you: What do you think of Pokemon Go? Please share with us!

Cover photo via YouTube

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