Pokémon Go, the free-to-play, location-based, augmented reality game, is barely a month old but has already taken the gaming world by a landslide. The game is currently the most downloaded mobile app and its popularity has surpassed top mobile apps like Facebook and Snapchat. This fast success is what has stunned rival tech companies and the game’s replicas could be on the way.
According to specialists, Pokémon Go may top the chart of all times paying mobile games if the current trend continues. The current sales record could amount to between $200 and $500 million in just one year. The achievement of the app has attracted the attention of competing firms which are now exploring the augmented reality space aiming to produce clones, but that will not be a walk in the park as confessed by some top personalities in the industry.
Top executives at leading game developing corporations have hailed Niantic for creating such a game. Senior officers at Sony Inc. and Rovio, the team behind Angry Birds have admitted the difficulty in publishing a game that can match Pokémon Go. Sony’s Interactive Entertainment senior researcher, Richard Marks, admits that it is indeed hard to match the Pokémon Go and the fame it has brought to Niantic and Microsoft.
President of worldwide studios and live services at Kabam, Aaron Loeb, says it the biggest ever viral phenomenon in mobile. Kabam published mobile titles like Star Wars Uprising and Marvel Contest of Champions. Mr. Loeb is particularly fascinated by the game’s creation that takes advantage of ordinary technology from which a fairy-tale is made. It’s is also specific to mobile and uses the mundane features on phones, camera, and maps.
Pokémon Go is now being downloaded and played by developers at top tech corporations (confirmed by executives at these organizations). The games creators are in search of what makes the game so addictive. Elsewhere, Chief executive at N3twork Inc. and former employee at EA (Electronic Arts), Neil Young, thinks it is not the right time to release another augmented reality game. According to Young, the new game will struggle to compete against the already thriving Pokémon Go and may be overshadowed.
However, Niantic critics claim the game does not include social features which they feel is an essential feature for the current generation gaming. Pokémon Go does not allow communication among players or allow them to team up while on a hunt. According to this group of developers, they will take a different diversion.
Game developer, Warner Bros is working on releasing a series of augmented reality games. However, the team has declined to brief the public of their efforts.
Real location-based titles have been released before
However, Niantic is not the first to release a location based game. Back in 2009, Booyah launched ‘MyTown’ a title which doubled as a location-based real estate amusement and as a social media platform. The game required the players to physically travel to real locations to acquire in-game cash and gain experience. They then spend the money in acquiring properties from where they can collect rents.
In 2011, MMO ‘Life is Crime’ was developed by Red Robot Labs. The gameplay involved players committing sham offenses in real-life settings such as banks and coffee shops. The Labs’ founder, Pete Hawley, also spoken on the on the success of Pokémon Go. He says getting locations data together is both time consuming and costly: It will not be easy for any startup to come up with a game like Pokémon Go. Hawley warns that it will be hell for Pokémon Go replicas to get the numbers playing the game since it’s an interactive game. The game has over 20 million daily active users.
In spite of venturing in the technology earlier, the aforementioned apps did not make a heavy impact as Pokémon Go. It’s also premature to predict what will happen when newer games of such nature will be developed; time will be the determining factor.
It should also be remembered that location-based games, Pokémon Go, for this matter, has met opposition from governments and authorities. The game is blamed for being a nuisance in public areas as well as compromising security.