By Federico Fredes
It’s been awhile since Pokemon GO has been out in the market, and with it, brought a revolutionary way of making gaming experiences come to life in the real world. But what are the factors that differentiates it from the rest of those games and applications that implement similar technologies? And what is the future of the gaming industry based on Pokemon’s huge success?
WHAT IS POKEMON GO?
Pokemon Go is a mobile game based on the highly popular japanese franchise, developed and published by San Francisco based NIANTIC, Inc. As in any of the franchise’s games, the player takes the role of a Pokemon trainer tasked with collecting monsters. The concept of the game is fairly simple: walk around your city or town, catch Pokemon that spawn along the way and gain experience points to level up, as well as finding PokeStops that will drop items and consumables when you interact with them. Once you reach level 5, you’ll be able to join a team among the three existing ones. That will enable you to fight against the opposite factions in order to gain control of Gyms.
This all comes together through the use of it’s two featuring technologies: Augmented Reality, which utilizes the Smart Phone camera to add digital information over what the player sees in it- in this case, Pokemon- and Geolocation, where, the application maps the game world using real world map data and the phones GPS to instantiate the player inside the game on his physical location; as the player moves in the real world, the character will also move inside the game world.
HOW COME IT BECAME SO POPULAR?
The technologies used in Pokemon GO have been out and about for many years now but with the implementation of some very clever design principles, the experience achieved marked a huge milestone in Augmented Reality games. One of the most interesting– and dominant – factor of Pokemon GO is it’s ability to gather players and make them socialize, directly or indirectly.
Through Pokemon spawning, Gyms, and Lure Modules(consumables that can be placed in PokeStops to attract Pokemon to a specific location) players that share the same geographic location will start to congregate in a specific place and share the same goal and, in most cases, socialize with each other, extending the play session and the rewards that come with it. This game mechanic was not coincidental at all. NIANTIC developers achieved this through a very intricate set of rules and decisions that as a result would create the huge systemic crowds we see nowadays in parks, malls and other points of interest around cities and towns all over the world.
For instance, having people gathered in one geographical position where there are specific points of interest (such as PokeStops or Gyms), playing Pokemon GO will naturally attract those people towards them in order to add value to their experience and being benefitted by the rewards and challenges these offer. Once there’s a certain amount of people there and someone may place a Lure Module (In-game item that attracts pokemon to a specific location and can benefit all players located there) will signal other players around the area to go to that spot, and so, the more players there are, the more are the Lure Modules that will be placed in that spot.
For further analysis on the systemic crowd system read Brice Morrison’s on the sources below
THE FUTURE OF AUGMENTED REALITY
Besides it’s huge early success, Pokemon GO has many Game Design, UX and technical flaws that have crippled its growth as time passed and the hype died down— such as server problems, bad GPS tracking, an incomprehensive UX/UI and lackluster aesthetics. Nonetheless, it has opened up the door to explore new practices and standards, both in and out of the gaming industry and the lessons learned by this success case will change current design paradigms, that will drive future experiences towards new horizons. With Pokemon GO as a stepping stone for Augmented Reality in the mainstream market, we’ll be able to create new immersive experiences that only through this medium can become memorable.
The market for augmented reality is expected to continue growing rapidly and reports & forecasts estimate that the global market for both Virtual and Augmented Reality would reach $120 billion by year 2020. In addition to other technological advancements like Microsoft Hololens, we can expect more experiences like these in the near future.
- Gamasutra: How Pokemon GO’s Design Creates Systemic Crowds
- Digi-Capital: Augmented/Virtual Reality revenue forecast revised to hit $120 billion by 2020