Pokémon GO Explainer – Why everyone is staring at their phones this time

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The world seems to be going crazy for Pokémon GO. The smartphone game's incredible popularity is responsible for everything from a massive jump in the value of Nintendo's shares to the discovery of a dead body. Pokémon GO uses augmented reality to place creatures and items in real locations -- which brought people, and Pokémon, to places they don't normally go.

WORLDWIDE – Are you seeing more people than usual wandering around staring at their smartphones?

Last week, Nintendo launched Pokémon GO, an interactive game and app for Apple and Android products.  The usage of the app is expected to surpass the use of Twitter this week.

So, to those not in tune with the Pokémon universe, what is this?

According to a full explainer on VOX.com, Pokémon Go uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you are in the game.  Then, Pokémon, which are little Japanese animated critters, start appearing on your phone screen.  And you can catch them and keep them…on your phone, because they are just animated characters. Then, based on where you go, more types of Pokémon appear.  The idea is to encourage you to travel around, take walks, and just move around the real world to catch more Pokémon.  You get different kind of Pokémon depending if you are at a park, the beach, or in the city.

There are also spots called PokéStops, which are notable locations marked in your in-game map. (The Hideout Brewery, right next to FOX 17 on Plaza Drive NE, is one.)  There, you can get more Poké Balls and eggs that hatch into baby Pokémon.

You can also find “gyms” where people are Pokémon trainers.  And if you get good enough, you can be a trainer too!

Only two days after the release the game was installed on 5.16% of all Android devices in the U.S., according to analytics firm SimilarWeb.

The app is already more popular than Tinder and is soon to outperform Twitter on Android. It’s also the top free app and the top grossing app in the U.S. iPhone App Store.

All this, and it hasn’t even launched globally yet. It’s only available in limited markets, including Australia and the United States.

So, how is Nintendo making money on this? The game allows players to drop a Lure module in a real world location to attract high numbers of Pokémon for 30 minutes. The lure modules have reportedly also been used by business owners to bring people to their stores.  It has also been used at least once to lure teens to a location to rob them.  Also, even though the game is free, you can buy items in the store with real money to lure more Pokémon. (Use real money to lure fake creatures – yup!)

Pokémon GO uses “augmented reality” which puts animated or computer generated creatures into the real world.  The game isn’t the first to use it, and with the success of Pokémon GO, it won’t be the last.


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