By FRANKLIN DUFFY
The mobile game Pokemon Go took the world by storm this summer, launching on July 6, 2016 and gaining a massive player base of over 21 million people within the first week, breaking all previous records of first week downloads in the App Store and Google Play. Currently, it has upwards of 500 million downloads worldwide. It is developed by Niantic and is currently free to play with in-app purchases on both iOS and Android.
The game uses the world around the player to create an augmented reality to catch Pokemon in different locations. Once caught, Pokemon can be powered up and evolved to be pitted against each other at Gyms in various locations. There are also many Pokestops scattered throughout cities, usually located at statues, landmarks and parks, to help players receive more Pokeballs and potions to catch more Pokemon and heal them from intense gym battles. Sometimes, a lucky trainer will receive an egg from a stop, which only hatches after they have walked a certain distance ranging from 2 to 10 kilometers.
Pokemon Go was first released on July 6 to players in Australia and New Zealand and was an instant success. The game was so popular in these countries that its servers could not keep up after only the first day. This effect was magnified on July 8th when it was released in the United States, rendering the game unplayable in the peak hours of the day. A week later, the game was released in the United Kingdom, as well as the rest of Europe in the subsequent days, and Asia towards the end of the month. As more people around the world began playing, new Pokemon started showing up only in certain countries, such as Tauros in North America, Mr. Mime in Europe, Far Fetch’d in Asia and Kangaskhan in Australia.
A common sight to see is a group of people standing around a Pokestop, often socializing and talking about Pokemon while busily catching them.
“I love the game just in general because of the community,” Amrut Ayyala (So.) said. “I love how awesome everyone is to each other, and it makes working out fun for me because I have a goal that feels more physical to reach. Hatching eggs and catching Pokemon is just so much fun.”
Though the reviews were mostly positive, the game has gone through some major bugs such as unexpected crashes or freezing during gameplay and server issues which have hindered the players experience, especially for those who have invested a lot of money into the game.
“The bugs affected my devotion to the game in the first week, but I continued playing the game because I loved it,” Ashley Yang (Jr.) said. “But after I wasn’t able to play the game for 3 days, I dropped it.”
Recent controversies have surfaced involving people endangering themselves while playing the game by falling off cliffs, causing car accidents, and trespassing. Numerous third party apps have also been released with the intent of cheating the moving aspect of the game or finding the exact location of Pokemon. Niantic has been forced to make major revisions such as more in-app warnings as well as removing the tracking feature.
The future for Pokemon Go is unclear as summer comes to a close, as the world questions whether Niantic will continue to engage people to still want to play the game.