It’s no surprise that Pokemon Go is the newest fad in mobile gaming, even if it wasn’t exactly what hardcore fans of the series were expecting.
And, at least for the short term, it’s had a large impact on the world, especially on younger generations who grew up playing the games, watching the anime, and collecting the trading cards. This article, we’re going to look into why Nintendo chose to make the game how it is, the positive impacts it can have on the world, and the future of Pokemon games.
So, take a break from tracking that elusive rare Pokemon you’ve been hunting and consider a few things we can learn about Pokemon Go and what it could mean for us and the video game industry.
In a grand metaphorical sense, different video game companies are people in your normal life. Most are friends who cater to your wants and desires. Like friends do, they are interested in providing the most entertaining, flashiest game.
Nintendo, on the other hand, is like your parent in the video game world. The understand what you want, but they also know your needs. For a long time, Nintendo has put a large emphasis on using their video games to improve health and improve people’s quality of life. It was one of the main reasons they developed the Wii with motion controls. They put out tons of games designed to help develop problem solving skills in players. They are dedicated to creating healthy, smart, happy video gamers.
It’s clear to see this dedication in Pokemon Go. They didn’t need to centralize the whole game around going outside and exercising. Nintendo could have easily made a Pokemon game where you don’t walk around and it probably would have been just as popular. But they didn’t.
They are looking at the needs of their players and trying to create fun games to solve them, and Pokemon Go is the perfect example of it. The stereotypical gamer is typically personified as overweight, never goes outside, and has limited social interaction. So Nintendo released a mobile game designed to fix all three.
Everybody is loving how a simple app can get people outside and moving, but for some places, games like this could make a huge impact. For example, Japan has a big problem with extremely reclusive people called Hikikomori. These people are extremely afraid of face to face interactions, despise going outside, and spend most of their time indoors. Many spend their days watching TV, browsing the internet, and playing video games.
Then enters Pokemon Go. Many of these lost youths grew up playing and loving Pokemon. Now they have a game encouraging them to get outside in a very non pressure situation. So they go around, catching Pokemon and just being around people, something they don’t normally do. Over time, they get better and start to reintegrate with society. They start to make friends because of the game, and with some help, take back their lives.
That’s not all though. According to Bradley University, 18.1% of the adult population in the US struggle with mental illness, with 15.7 million adults suffering from depression. Exercising, getting outside and being around people are all great ways to help treat it. Not only will Pokemon Go help Japan’s struggling youth, but it could be a great tool to help the world’s mental health.
Fans of the game have been wanting a more in-depth, MMO style Pokemon game where they can easily battle other people around the world. While not every part of Pokemon Go matches up to what people want, it’s pretty close.
You go about a massive world filled with millions of players capturing Pokemon and then battling opponents at Gyms. Eventually, the developers could patch in player to player trading, battling and more. They could even update the battle system to be more like a traditional battle rather than the current method.
What’s important about this is that Pokemon Go right now is widely popular. Within a day, it topped download charts and single handedly boosted Nintendo’s stock 7.5 million dollars over a weekend. So if Nintendo can continue to make money from it and if it has lasting power in the game market, it could encourage them to finally make the game we want!
The one unavoidable function of Pokemon Go is walking around. You have to walk to find Pokemon/Pokestops/Gyms and to hatch eggs. You can’t drive, take a train, or even really ride a bike to get them to work. Walking is the only way to go.
So, I see two potential situations for when we enter the colder months and snow begins to fall. The first, and more likely, is that the game will see a drastic drop in players as the temperature drops. Right now, it’s alright because it’s nice to walk around when it’s warm. People are ok being outside as long as it’s not 100+ degrees. But when winter comes, people pile indoors and hide away.
The other situation is that gym membership skyrockets and tons of Pokemon Go players continue to exercise. If Nintendo and Niantic were smart, they would group more Pokemon and Gyms around areas people will walk around. This could include gyms, rec centers, malls and more. They will still lose players, but hopefully lessen the blow.
Nintendo invested 20 million dollars in Pokemon Go. Yes, it jumped their stocks up massively and yes, they are currently making around a million dollars a day, but this isn’t Nintendo’s end goal. They understand that their real money makers are the traditional Pokemon games on handheld consoles.
Yet, over time the series has been slightly losing steam, regardless of what major news sites might be telling you. Take a look at the sales. The original Pokemon games for the Gameboy sold 23 million copies, with their immediate follow up sequels selling a similar amount. Over time though, the series have dipped. The most recent games, Pokemon X/Y (14.7 million sold) and Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire (11.84 million) are low sellers compared to the glory days of Pokemon. Don’t get me wrong, selling 11 million of anything is still impressive and Nintendo is making a killing off of it. Especially since GameFreaks (the developer of Pokemon games) has a fairly small staff and Pokemon games don’t cost a lot to produce.
Anyways, what I’m saying is that Pokemon games aren’t selling as well as they use to. In hopes of changing this trend, Nintendo is utilizing Pokemon Go to create a wave of nostalgia in older players who might have skipped the last few games and to remind them of the joy of Pokemon. And what is coming out in November, four months after Pokemon Go’s release? Pokemon Sun and Moon. Just in time for it to get cold and people to stop playing the app, but still need to scratch their ”Gotta Catch ‘Em All” itch. It’s going to reignite in people their brand loyalty to Pokemon and get them excited to venture further into the Pokemon games.
What are your thoughts on Pokemon Go? What’s the coolest Pokemon you’ve caught so far? Have some tips you want to share with new trainers? Let us know in the comments below.
Consumer of all thing geek. Ben spends his time playing video games, writing, pondering the Zelda timeline, and wondering when he will become a professional at all three. You can follow him on twitter @allen24ben