Pokemon GO captures hearts, minds, cloud resources, and large numbers too
July heralded the release of the augmented reality game Pokémon GO on IoS and Android. Regardless of opinion of the content or style of game play, it has become an overnight success, causing Nintendo's market value to increase dramatically; shares in July went from $15.5 to more than $33.30. It is free to play but generates revenue from in-app purchases. Originally announced in September 2015 as a joint development between Nintendo, The Pokémon Co and Niantic Labs (originally an internal startup at Google) to bring location-based gaming and mobile augmented reality to the mass market, it features a wearable bracelet that communicates with the phone and flashes and vibrates to game events. Its cloud-based interactions need to service millions of concurrent users and withstand the attention of focused hacking attacks. It highlights the use of augmented reality – albeit very light AR – on mobiles, creating social and legislative concerns.
Geo-caching and location-based gaming have lurked in the mobile space for years, including Niantic Labs' Ingress, but now it has a mega brand associated with it, and it has gone mainstream in weeks. Mass-market adoption, if only fleeting, will open the floodgates to this genre of digital business, just as Facebook and Twitter brought attention to social media, and Uber and Airbnb to digital-first disruption.