Why Pokémon Go Became a Massive Hit
It’s been more than a week since the initial release and the demand for the new free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game just keeps on getting higher with no signs of slowing down. Pokémon may be an old franchise, but we can’t deny that it has an appeal that we can consider timeless.
To give you a quick background, the Pokémon franchise was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, 21 years ago. If I remember correctly, my first encounter with Pokémon was in 1998 via Pokémon Red on an old Game Boy. Although I never owned a Game Boy of my own and played it for just a few hours daily, I still got hooked. Thanks to the clever gameplay that allowed players to collect these cute, and not so cute, Pocket Monsters and make them stronger as you progress.
From there I found myself watching every episode of the animated series including the movies, then transitioned to playing the card game where I spent most of my savings from my daily allowance as a high school student. After 4 or 5 years, give or take, I lost interest. I can’t even keep up with the new Pokémon and stopped counting after 250. On the Game Boy, I made it until Pokémon Emerald.
I tried playing it again on my brother’s Nintendo DS with Pokémon Black but I didn’t have the patience anymore. The thought that you have to purchase a DS just to play the game makes it cumbersome, not to mention a bit heavy in the pockets, considering you can buy a decent Android smartphone for that price. Just download an emulator and ROM and you’re good to go.
Then came Pokémon Go.
The thought of reintroducing an iconic game in a different platform and gameplay is interesting and promising. It has a lot to prove though, especially for old-school players who started with the Game Boy. I thought that Pokémon Go would only appeal to fans. I was wrong.
Launching on Android and iOS was the first haymaker.
Niantic and The Pokémon Company threw a solid punch when they released it on two of the most popular mobile OS in town – Android and iOS — for FREE! That said, I don’t need to buy a dedicated handheld console as I can just use the smartphone I use every day. It saves me money and I don’t have to carry a separate device.
Augmented reality (AR) gaming is awesome!
Handheld gaming is fantastic, no doubt about that. You can play in the comforts of your own home regardless of the weather. However, it can also be boring. And your mom might frequently ask you to put it down and go out and play. Pokémon Go solves that. The game also makes real but boring locations look interesting as you’ll never know what Pokémon you will find. And the fact that you can catch your starter Pokémon in unsuspecting locations, like the bathroom or your neighbor’s sari-sari store, adds hilarity to the whole thing.
It encouraged physical and social activity.
I’m sure you’re aware by now that you go outside and roam about to progress in Pokémon Go. And since there are lots of things happening outside, including real physical risks if you’re not being careful, makes it more thrilling. If you’re playing it right, and safely, you might also bump into another trainer that you can be friends and catch Pokémon with. Talk about multiplayer.
Everyone can play.
As mentioned earlier, not everyone can play Pokémon back in the days as it requires paying for the merchandise. Given that Pokémon Go is free-to-play on Android or iOS, it allowed more people to try it, new to Pokemon or not. Even my mom and my sister (based outside PH) who has never played a Pokémon game before was able to catch some and level-up.
One of my personal highlights during my brief time with Pokémon Go (before servers became wonky) was when I showed it to my son.
“What is it, daddy?”
“It’s called Pokémon.”
“Look there is a turtle!”
“That is called Squirtle.”
*The lessons begin*
Thanks to the simple gameplay, I let him catch a few for himself. Seeing the smile on his face when he caught his first Pokémon is just priceless. It brought back memories when I first caught a wild Pikachu in Viridian Forest. I promised him that we’ll go out together and catch more Pokémon once the game is “fixed”.
It’s a platform where players can come together and just have fun.
I’ve never seen a game brought that much people together, not just online, but also offline. I guess that’s why Pokémon Go became a massive hit – it brought chemistry to all kinds of players regardless of age and gender. It doesn’t matter if you know Pokémon or not, or if you have played it on the Game Boy or DS. As long as you can play with others (and have the will to catch ’em all!), you can become a Pokémon trainer.