I was born in the nineties, and unlike most of my peers, I never ever played a Pokémon game — before last year, when I got a 3DS and played through Pokémon X.
But for a lot of people of my age, Pokémon has a certain nostalgia factor that very few franchises have. This is mostly because it hasn’t been milked dry over the years.1
If you wanted to play Pokémon you’d need to pick up a DS or a 3DS. But everyone has a smartphone these days, so it was only a matter of time before Pokémon came to mobile, right? Now it has arrived, and now I’ll cover why exactly that is the case, and why 2016 is the perfect moment for Pokémon GO to be unleashed upon the masses.
Now, you might say that it’s easy to say so in retrospect, after the game has amassed a massive amount of players and entire continents (Europe) waiting for an entire release. But there’s a few reasons I’d like to cover here:
The Nineties Kids
I’ve already explained this above — for adults of my age and up to their late twenties, Pokémon is a game we grew up with. There’s two reasons why this a great move:
- Nostalgia factor. It’s the original Pokémon, and you can collect them by going out of the house. It’s a social event (much like Pokémon was in the days, where you’d trade and have fun together). It helps people get out a bit more, and they can indulge in their nostalgia while having fun and seeing Pokémon usher in the digital age.
- Available capital. Not just applicable to the game. I expect more sales of the 3DS and Pokémon games. Moon & Sun are coming, and those nineties kids now have money to burn on a 3DS if they really want to play a Pokémon game. And to be fair, the Pokémon games are fun for adults as well! Besides, it also means people are more likely to drop money on in-game microtransactions.
Smartphone hardware requirements & mobile broadband
This game would have a been a bit more difficult to pull off, say, two years ago. People get new phones, and newer phones have better battery life, improved GPS, improved camera’s… all requirements for the game.
Without powerful smartphones, this AR game would not have been possible. Even cheaper phones can now run the game without trouble, which is why this is also a big deal. Let’s not forget the fact that we have mobile broadband and 3G/4G connections which is required for the game as well.
(For instance, releasing this game two to four years earlier would not have resulted in such a widespread adoption of the game, and I’m pretty sure about that. Phone hardware has come a long way!)
Pokémon as a brand
It’s Pokémon. It’s very popular and well-known. Ingress, the game’s spiritual predecessor did not ever do this well 2. That’s the brand doing the work. I mean, how cute is Pikachu?
Now, the internet isn’t new, but how fast fads and trends can spread has certainly never been so easy — pictures, video, and all arriving at fast speeds: the game has spread like wildfire. It’s on the radio, it’s on the television, it’s being shared like crazy.
So yes, I’m not surprised. Good news for Nintendo as well, since their stock has risen 80% at the time of writing.
Pokémon GO is available officially starting today (in Belgium and the Netherlands). It’s still rolling out globally, and has been out in other regions for a week now.
We’ve seen a lot of companies publish yearly installments which eventually led to certain series bleeding dry. I’m thinking about an Assassin’s Creed They also had mobile spinoffs and they effectively bled their franchises dry until people just didn’t want more of it. (Although I am curious to see the movie.) ↩
Not to say that no props to the guys at Ingress must be given. The technology requirements are no joke. ↩