What Pokémon Go Means for Augmented Reality

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Some people say that intellectual property can change the environment of how a product reaches the world, and nothing has proved that more accurate than this month’s semi-release of Pokemon Go for mobile devices.

Niantic, a developer that partnered with Google to make the location-based player-versus-player game Ingress on mobile, had the break of their lives as the Pokemon Company approached them to translate their unique technology into the world of pocket-monsters. Since the announcement in September of 2015, the world has been abuzz with excitement.

Taking a game like Ingress, and putting one of the world’s strongest IP’s skin over it, makes Pokemon Go feel like one of the smartest decisions in recent decades. Yet it’s another nail in the coffin against “original ideas” and “fresh intellectual properties.”

The world has gone insane (in a good way) over Pokemon Go. Police have had to issue warnings, companies have had to kick people out of their stores, groups are turning up in droves to parks to have Pokemon Hunting parties. This is by far the biggest trend in gaming the world has seen in a while.

The world is going nuts! People are getting outside, thanks to a video game. Take that, everyone’s mother.

It figures that the fans of the original Pokemon are currently at the age where obsession of mobile games is a true way to spend time, and hard earned money. The original game came out in 1994, and those whom were locked to their Gameboys then, are late 20’s, early 30’s now. Primed to spend, and in dire need of that nostalgia—it’s no surprise that the current releases of the standard Pokemon franchises are starting to get out of hand for the original fans. Revisiting the initial 150 Pokedex was another smart move to hook the demographic that they needed to in order to turn out a blockbuster hit. Everyone is playing it.

The funny thing is, a lot of people don’t know WHAT they’re playing. We’ve covered a lot regarding the worlds of VR and AR here over the past few months, and contemplated where those technologies were going to go. Pokemon Go is changing that path. This game is putting AR in the hands of casual gamers, that otherwise would avoid complicated avenues for entertainment. Because everyone (that’s a generalization) has a smart phone. Which means that Niantic and Co need not fret over delivering a piece of software without the uncertainty of pushing hardware with it.

Pokemon Go takes Ingress’ gps-based movement system, and pairs it with an AR catch mechanic, and BOOM, everyone who downloads the game becomes introduced to the world of AR. Using your phone’s camera, Pokemon are shown on your device overlaid on the real world you see around you. Making for a neat, and reality-bending experience.

For years to come, gamers, and casuals alike will be accustomed to the idea of interaction through AR—thanks to a Pokemon game. How great is that?

While I spend a lot of my days pondering the trend technologies of the world will take, one of the biggest hurdles these “next-gen” platforms could have been stuck on, was the introduction. I’ve said it before, and this only furthers my point; VR and AR will cease to be niche, once big names, and big ip’s start working within those mediums.

A lot of people didn’t pay too much attention to Virtual Reality until Playstation announced it would be making a first-party system. Consumers like to be comforted by names they recognize.

Pokemon Go may have just been a smart choice to develop a beloved franchise to re-reach their original audience in a 21-st century way, but it has become far more than that. It will team up with other big names, in the battle to dissolve the walls between common mixed-reality mediums, and the people who will, and can, enjoy it.

Pokémon Go Will Allow Players to Trade Pokémon

Now, where’s that Mewtwo hiding?

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