Pokemon Go: The unsurprising smash hit

No one saw this coming. An app from Niantic and The Pokemon Company that allows you to capture Pocket Monsters from your smartphone in augmented reality is not only getting more users than Tinder and Twitter, it’s slowly taking over the world.

It’s a strange universe where all web comics were right.

But in all seriousness, anyone that played the Pokemon games in the past saw this coming. Combine the ease of access to any smartphone, the addicting nature of catching ‘em all and the nostalgia many have for those original 150 monsters and it was written in the starts for this to be a huge hit.

It does get a little crazy, though. Nintendo’s shares have rose 25% since its release last week, having their best day since 1983 and adding £5.39 billion to their market value.

That doesn’t sound too out there given the game’s success but people are unaware that Pokemon is not owned by Nintendo. They have a stake in the brand that’s owned by The Pokemon Company themselves and it is them, along with Niantic, that created the game rather than the Japanese gaming giant.

For those two, it’s made more than $14 million in its first few days in the US just on micro-transactions alone. A money machine that can roll on for as long as it wants to, even when the initial hype runs down, there are still millions of devoted Pokemon fans that will keep this running for a long time.

This phenomenon has got so big that UK newspapers had double-page spreads on how to change the region on your phone or download a safe APK on Android to play the game early. That is the height of insanity, the fact that a publication is actively showing you how to skip around barriers to play now is like an estate agent showing you how to break into the house they are showing you round so you can move in ahead of time.

Now that it has been released on our shores, it’s fair to say the bug has nibbled everyone here too. Catching them is as addictive as air is to breathe but the battling system is poor and servers are prone to dipping or the app crashes at different times. It’s not perfect and while a lot will move away in the next month or so, Pokemon fans will have their fill on a regular basis as long as they keep drip-feeding new things to collect.

Many of us hoped that there would be some sort of multiplayer Pokemon MMORPG eventually and that it would print money. Now that there is this success, Nintendo need to get on the phone and give their good Pokemon friends a call to make that dream a reality, it could be the potential savoir of their new console along with the new Zelda game.

The only worry stemming from this craze is when the rest of the industry gets their grubby mitts on an idea like this. If we know video game companies by now, expect a concept like this to be milked by everyone else until all the cows become bloated milk-producing machines.

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