Pokemon Go GOTY Write-up
In a year of celebrity deaths, political turmoil, and on a personal note a foot-deep flood of my flat, 2016 was a year that needed some creature comforts. What a pleasure it was then to see a time-and-tested franchise create a hugely successful and fun game create some happy headlines. The Midlife Gamer community has voted, and your mobile game of the year is Pokemon Go.
Mobile games have become part of the cultural mainstream, driven by the financial success and large user base of mobile games. Considering even the most played games, Pokemon Go has surpassed even the wildest benchmarks of popularity. It was the third most downloaded app last year (behind Snapchat and Facebook Messenger) and peaked at almost 45million daily active users. That’s the equivalent of the population of Ukraine checking in on their eggs every day.
The game itself was a tidy translation of the original collect-em-up games to mobile platforms. Catching pokemon in real places was a realisation of a whole generation of childhood dreams. Battling it out for Gyms based in landmarks was also a nice way of updating the formula with an AR twist.
Being a free-to-play mobile game with microtransations, Pokemon Go rewarded players who invested the highest amount of time (or money) hitting the streets and covering some serious ground searching for pokemon. This can be problematic for those of us blessed with little patience, and especially for people with shorter batteries or lower amounts of data. These foibles go part of the way to explain how the usage of the app has dropped off quite significantly since it’s meteoric rise in the summer.
The game is one that has enjoyed the most coverage in mainstream (non-gaming) media in living memory, and perhaps the best thing to come out of the efforts of Niantic and Nintendo are the crazy stories that started appearing. From players discovering dead bodies, being confused for drug dealers to Pokestop strip clubs and presidential poke-trainers there is no end to the bizarre coverage. The most familiar story was of the apocalyptic scenes with hordes of people sprinting across public spaces to get to a sighting of a rare pokemon. The evidence speaks for itself.
Embed video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11DLQWFqoqY
If this is the way the human race meets it’s end – then you can be sure that we’ll meet our maker with a bulging pokedex.