Pokemon GO. © Nintendo

Pokemon GO is an augmented reality video game released in July 2016 and developed by Niantic. It is available on Android and iOS powered devices and players can buy a wearable device that goes by the name of Pokemon GO Plus. The purpose of the game is to find, fight, train, trade and capture virtual Pokemon that appear in the real world. The video game is available to play for free, but players have the option of purchasing stuff using the dedicated app.

Key facts about Pokemon GO

  • Pokemon GO has a total of 150 characters that players need to find in the great outdoors, train, capture and trade.
  • The game runs smoothly on most mobile devices, with iPhones and Android gadgets supporting the dedicated app.
  • Pokemon GO is a highly interactive game, as the Pokemon can be found in the real world, so players need to get out to play.
  • The developers are the same company that has created Ingress and the portals of the previous game were turned into Pokestops.
  • Eevee, Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle are the more elusive and difficult to find characters in Pokemon GO.

What is Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO is a video game for smartphones and tablets running on iOS and Android operating systems. Niantic are its developers, the same company that has produced the Ingress, another augmented reality videogame. Nintendo is working closely with the developers and helps with the manufacturing of the companion app Pokemon GO Plus.

The latter can be downloaded on any of the aforementioned devices for free and can be used for in game purchases.Players try to catch Pokemon whenever they come across them in the real world and a successful attempt will result in the collection of an evolution crystal. Just as the name suggests, these shards are used to upgrade the Pokemon, which have the uncanny ability to evolve.

Gameplay of Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO promotes some innovative game mechanics, with the highlight of this videogame being that players need to go outside and interact with others. The wristband device that will be shipped with the game is called Pokemon GO Plus and it serves the purpose of detecting nearby creatures. Players are notified about the proximity to a Pokemon and when they do, they are supposed to enter a code to capture it. The app also allows them to check out the creatures captured and begin the training process.

Pokemon GO rewards those who persevere and the more creatures they add to their collection, the more XP points they accumulate. Depending on how rare they are, they will award more or less points, with a maximum of 500 XP up for grabs. The game mechanics are inspired by the ones promoted by the cartoons and a good throw will also result in an XP boost. Another way to accumulate experience points faster is to discover Pokémon that come from eggs, as they are significantly stronger.

Players can make an accurate estimation of their chances to succeed, by paying attention to how the Pokeball behaves. A smaller circle indicates a high probability for a successful catch, whereas a large one suggests that your chances to succeed are reduced. As mentioned above, the Ingress portals are supposed to help players find their way around and they will play a particularly important role in rural areas.

The game mechanics in Pokemon GO are pretty complex, with the balls being thrown in ways that will appeal to baseball fans. Throwing a curveball, a flick ball or a straight ball will influence your chances to succeed, but the wild Pokemon have the ability to deflect these attacks.

Screenshot of Pokemon GO. © Nintendo
Screenshot of Pokemon GO. © Nintendo

Plot of Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO doesn’t have a storyline per se, as it is supposed to be played with and against other players. The goal is to collect as many Pokemon as possible and once you have them in your collection, these can be trained and then traded with other players. Players are always on a quest, because the first step is to locate and catch these creatures, which can be found pretty much anywhere outside. The accessory released with the game will help players find them and the gadget is used to catch Pokemon as well.

The game was supposed to stay true to the Pokemon lore, as the creatures were allegedly roaming the free world and that’s where they can be captured. In the video game, most of them are located within urban areas, while in rural zones the Ingress portals will come in handy. Iconic sites and city landmarks are expected to be the ones where some of the most popular Pokemon will be found.

Meanwhile, finding the rarest and most elusive creatures will probably require players to leave their comfort zone and explore more remote places. The video trailers released so far, highlight the reasonable learning curve, but a scalable difficulty as the storyline progresses.

The number of Pokemon is also expected to grow by the end of 2016. For the time being players can only hope to find and collect a maximum of 150 of them. It is possible for creatures of the same type to behave differently and even have different moves, so the combinations are endless. Since the game is played outdoors, it’s important to mention that the alternation of day and night as well as time doesn’t affect in any way the availability of Pokemon.

Development of Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO was first envisioned by Satoru Iwata back in 2013 and presented to the representatives of the Pokémon Company and Nintendo. Development started soon after and the first official announcement was made two years later, when the Pokemon GO Plus gadget was also unveiled. Attention was paid to the players' requests and they are still consulted as new features are added. The video game was released on time, following successful beta testing.

The game compels players to work together at an unprecedented scale and has the potential of building a booming community. Testing begun in Japan and selected players were able to check out the game mechanics and provide input. The developers made it crystal clear that the game mechanics were not final. Many features were removed while others were added and more changes are expected.

Screenshot of Pokemon GO. © Nintendo
Screenshot of Pokemon GO. © Nintendo

Where can I download Pokemon GO?

Pokemon GO can be downloaded on the official Nintendo website, as Nintendo is the official publisher. On the same pages, players can also find the other games published by Nintendo. The most popular ones are Super Smash Bros, Resident Evil 6, The Legend of Zelda Wii U, Star Fox Zero and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. Pokemon GO is also available for download at no charge on the App Store and Google Play.

Pokemon GO tournaments

The augmented reality video game has already emerged as one of the most interactive games of the year. Pokemon GO tournaments however are not plausible as the interactions between players are restricted to a handful of participants. However, if the popularity of the game meets and exceeds expectations, it is not far-fetched to have Nintendo setting up such competitions.

Meanwhile you can watch and bet on Dota 2, League of Legends and Starcraft 2 Legacy of the Void matches.

How does Pokemon GO lure players out?

The very nature of the game makes it essential for players to leave the comfort of their home. Armed with mobile devices and GPS capabilities, they can enjoy the gaming experience offered by augmented reality. Unlike most games, you can’t advance to the next stage and make any progress for that matter if you don’t go outside. Some of the Pokemon are conveniently located in public places, while some require players to travel longer distances.

Screenshot of Pokemon GO Must Know
Screenshot of Pokemon GO Must Know

Players are notified by the application when a Pokemon is nearby, so there is no chance to miss them. Capturing the virtual monsters is easy once you get close enough, but players are still compelled to walk a lot. Parents have mixed feelings about this new game, with some being big fans while others vigorously oppose it. On one hand, they no longer have to convince their children to go out and play. On the other, they can never know for sure where their kids are heading on next, in search of Pokemon.

Do you have to run when playing Pokemon GO?

Contrary to popular belief, this is not an action-packed game and stamina is more important than agility or strength. Going outdoors to play the game is indeed a steep departure from the way most video games are played. After collecting the creatures located near your home, you will have no choice but to expand your grid. The application will notify you when you get close and highlight these creatures on the map, but you still need to do all the walking.

Running is not necessary because these creatures don’t vanish quickly and you’ve got all the time in the world. Pokemon Go poses few challenges to those who are not exactly fit, but helps them get in shape. Walking around and going to various Pokestops to collect supplies has the unintended effect of exploring the neighborhood. In these locations, players can find the coveted creatures, as well as eggs and other supplies. Before these eggs hatch, one might have to walk many kilometers, but at his own pace.

Can Pokemon GO be played with friends?

Many of those who have embraced the game wholeheartedly are people who spend a lot of time on social media. In fact, this is how the news broke out in the first place. It comes as no surprise that the social nature of this augmented reality video game shines brightly. Since it doesn’t have a standard multiplayer mode, players can enjoy the game with their friends indirectly. Everyone starts the game alone and once they hit level V, they can choose one of the three teams.

The more Pokemon they acquire, the more options they have when participating in virtual battles. These creatures can be trained to become more effective and improve your chances to win this fight. When two teams enter an arena, they will battle and the one that wins more fights will control the arena. It’s a straightforward gameplay that encourages human interaction and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Fighting is just one aspect of the game and players can also go searching for Pokémon together. The same creature can be collected by several players, so even if you reach your destination moments later, you won’t leave empty-handed. Swapping them will also be possible in a not so distant future, as developers are working on this feature. Players will be able to interact with their peers even more in the future.

Screenshot of Pokemon GO Augmented Reality
Screenshot of Pokemon GO Augmented Reality

What to look for when playing Pokemon GO

Exploring the neighborhood and remote areas is challenging enough. That’s why the developers make sure that players will receive plenty of useful information on their smartphones and tablets. When you approach an area where a Pokemon resides, the application will notify you and direct you to its location. Sometimes, they are found in inaccessible places, such as lakes, busy roads or buildings were access is denied. On the bright side, the application allows players to catch them from a safe distance.

In the early stages of the games, players have no reasons to expect any obstacles as most Pokemon are located nearby. Just like the vast majority of video games, this one has a learning curve and tends to get more difficult. Those who persevere and take it seriously will find pleasure in completing these challenges rather than feeling intimidated. Players of all skill levels must remember that it’s essential to pay attention to the real world to avoid injuries.

Does Pokemon GO gather sensitive data?

As always, there are plenty of people worried about the possibility of this video game gathering information about them. This is a sensitive issue and those who take identity theft seriously are rightfully concerned and want to learn more. Luckily for them, the reasons for concern are minimal and very little information is required by the game.

You can sign up using a fictional name, a nickname or pretty much any other combination of letters and numbers. Players share less information than they do when signing up for an account with an online casino or bookmaker. Joining Betway or other flagship operator would require players to use their real names in addition to a valid email. With Pokemon Go, it is possible not to use real names when setting up the gamer profile.

Posting your location on social networks isn't a good idea either, as these facts are better kept secret. At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the fact that most people use social networks and share a lot of information there. A little privacy goes a long way and those who enjoy Pokemon GO should exercise caution. Developers went out of their way to reassure players that additional information from Google accounts isn’t collected or used.

What challenges does Pokemon Go pose?

The game uses augmented reality, which literally means enriched reality. Basically, it displays virtual objects on the smartphones and tablets, as if they were in the real environment. It’s an interesting concept and apparently a very popular one, given the Pokémon Go hype. At the same time, it poses unique challenges that players need to be aware of to avoid potential injuries. The game is so immersive that many players tend to forget about the dangers posed by the urban jungle.

A couple of self evident dangers come to mind, such as crossing busy roads when playing the game. It’s easy to get distracted by the proximity of a Pokémon and fail to see incoming traffic. When these creatures are located in dangerous areas, such as lakes, tall buildings or bridges, other risks come to play. Under normal circumstances, people would have no problem in avoiding these perils, but the game diverts their attention. To some extent is the danger posed by taking’s selfies at a bigger scale.

Unfortunately, there were already plenty of instances in which people got hurt playing Ingress and Pokemon Go. There are even more people discussing the matter on social media and telling the community how they barely avoided injuries. It’s only a matter of time until the game will make its first victims, but these are truly unavoidable events. Players need to remember that Pokemon don’t vanish, so they have plenty of time to grab them and should put safety first.

Apparently, the criminals have found ingenious ways of taking advantage of the popularity of Pokemon Go. They lured unsuspecting victims to remote locations, by claiming that a rare creature can be found there and robbed them.

Which mobile device can I use to play Pokemon Go?

The Pokemon Go app can be downloaded for free on smartphones powered by iOS and Android operating systems. Tablets also work smoothly and you don’t even need the last generation device. It goes without saying that those who have new gadgets will enjoy a better experience. Battery life will inevitably be affected, as players are constantly using the GPS and have the display on. These are known to be the main sources of battery drainage, so the Pokémon Go Plus bracelet might be a good addition for savvy players.

The developers have every reason to expand the customer base beyond iOS and Android device users. For the time being, these represent the vast majority of smartphones and tablet owners. Windows phones and tablets as well as Blackberry gadgets could be added in a not so distant future. As long as there are enough people using these devices, those behind this popular augmented reality game will pay attention.

In which countries can I play Pokemon Go?

The developers intended to release the game internationally in the summer of 2016. They began by launching the game in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Several European countries were added on the list and residents of Germany, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom can now enjoy the game. The list also features country such as Egypt, Canada and the Dominican Republic, while many Asian nations are still on the waiting list.

Due to the fact that a high number of people tried to download the application, it crashed more often than expected. Furthermore, people from countries not featuring on the list above found a workaround to download the app. It’s only fair to assume that players from many other countries are already enjoying the game despite these obstacles. The list will keep growing, but it’s vital for the developers to add Pokémon to locations in those countries.

Screenshot of Pokemon GO Level 5
Screenshot of Pokemon GO Level 5

What is Pokemon Go Plus?

Pokemon GO is a free game, but dedicated players can purchase the Pokemon Go Plus bracelet with real cash. Nintendo has announced the imminent release of this item that can be connected to the mobile game via Bluetooth. It is supposed to simplify the mission of those who play the game, by vibrating and sending light signals. Players can enjoy the game for as long as they want without acquiring this item, but developers claim that it can enhance the gaming experience.

Those who have played the game extensively in the first days after its release have noticed the impact on the smartphones battery. Pokemon Go tends to deplete batteries pretty quickly, so this bracelet will come in handy. It will reduce energy consumption and at the same time provide all the advantages of using a GPS device. The gadget will revolve around the price of €40, but right now is only available in the US.

Is Pokemon GO a profitable game?

Niantic took great pride in announcing that the game will be free to play. However, they spend a lot of money developing the game and hope for a good return on investment. There are a couple of sources of income and the company contemplates new ways to monetize this video game. The obvious solution would be to raise money by selling the Pokémon Go Plus bracelets. At an average price of €40 per gadget, it should be a bankroll booster given the high number of players.

Many free to play games present players with the possibility of purchasing in-game items, skins and weapons with real cash. Most of them are vanity items that don’t impact the gameplay, therefore giving nonpaying members equal chances. The concept of sponsored locations is gaining traction and apparently there is no shortage of companies willing to pay. The prospect of having hordes of people enter their brick-and-mortar venues justifies a significant investment in the app.

Placing a sign that notifies players about the proximity of a rare creature only helps that much. In the long run, advertisers will have to pay a” cost per “visit” price to tap into this lucrative market. US retail stores and companies from all over the world have become unofficial Pokestops already. Even more are expected to jump on the bandwagon as millions of new customers play the game. There are obvious opportunities for advertising and nobody wants to be late to the party.

The fact that so many people use this application and the recent data from analytics is likely to push them over the board. Pokemon Go will soon enough surpass Twitter in terms of active users and even more companies will be willing to pay when this milestone is hit.

My rating of Pokemon GO

Pokemon GO is still pretty much a mystery to me, but I have high expectations given the strong game mechanics promoted. I like the idea of encouraging people to interact with each other more as they play. This particular title celebrates the social nature of video gaming. I also think that playing from the comfort of your home is a bit overrated.I wouldn’t mind walking the city and going beyond its borders to find these tiny creatures. For the time being, a review score of 8.5 out of 10 should do it, but I’d be delighted to revise the score upwards.

Overall Score