Augmented Reality’s First Real Test is Here And It’s — Pokemon?
Why Pokemon GO Will Be the First Real Test to See Whether or Not the World is Ready for AR
Pokemon GO is upon us. The game that was begged for, prayed for, and marketed for by its millions of worldwide fans has now finally been released in Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. As of the time I’ve started on this article in fact, it’s just hit the US Google Play store and I’ve got it sitting pretty and downloaded on my phone. Quite frankly, it’s taking all I have to continue writing rather than let my inner child indulge in — and let me borrow a phrase from Game of Thrones here— “the [App] that was promised.”
But beyond the fact that part of my excitement stems from being part of the generation that grew up with the franchise, my real excitement for the release stems from something that should not be overlooked.
The fact is: Pokemon GO will be our world’s first real and solid step into the adaption of Augmented Reality.
No It’s Not
Actually it is. Yes, there have been other AR-centric apps before: Ingress, Zombie Run, or even Yelp’s Monocle for you fancy folk. But none of them have ever enjoyed the sheer size and loyalty of the Pokemon fan base. Ingress has had 14M downloads on Android, Zombie Run far less, and though Yelp has tens of millions — how many users actually knew that they had that functionality, never mind using the app specifically for it?
Pokemon GO changes all of that.
Unlike AR games that flop or fade into oblivion because of a lack of media press or player following, Pokemon GO has a worldwide fan base built solidly into its brand. Unlike AR productivity apps that have limited use of their AR functionality, Pokemon GO’s nature being a game makes it so that it creates the very goals the AR is used to solve. Unlike either, Pokemon GO will not be forced into serving a narrow user niche. GO will have a user base consisting of both the very young (Gen Z) new to the franchise and the matured tech-savvy now-adult (millennials and older) who grew up with it.
Pokemon GO will be the first exposure for many of both groups of the possibilities and technologies of AR. That’s important. Because this means that if it flops, it can jade the entirety of a vital age group of a budding technology that many are still hoping to foster.
That’s A Lot of Pressure
It is. It means that Pokemon GO can’t just rest on its laurels on being a brand that everybody knows. It means that the mechanic and gameplay design that the game uses for AR needs to have been designed carefully— not just so that gamers can enjoy themselves, but so that future products can take it as a working model of successful data. It means that the app has the potential to either rush in a new wave of development and investing for new AR apps — or set back the clock a couple of years in the case of a gigantic flop that scars investors and cautions developers.
Either way, none of us will know for a while. For now at least, all we can do is play it and experience the Pokemon AR experience for ourselves and make our own judgements.
P.S: I’ve picked Charmander. What about you?