Pokemon Go turns 5: we take a look at how it changed mobile gaming


It’s hard to believe, but Pokemon Go is now 5 years old. What seemed like just another game at launch has turned into a global phenomenon that has gained greater recognition than any other mobile game before. In fact, you could say it got more recognition than any game since, including PUBG Mobile. So, on the occasion of its 5th anniversary, we take a look back at how Pokemon Go has changed mobile gaming.

Help transform smartphones into a legitimate gaming platform

Around 2015/16, the smartphone wasn’t a big deal when it came to gaming. Of course, there were a lot of popular games on the platform like Subway Surfer, Angry Birds, Jetpack Joyride, and many more. AAA developers always preferred to stick to established platforms. That changed when Nintendo and Niantic teamed up to release Pokemon Go. In fact, it was so popular and grossed so much money that AAA developers had to sit down and see the smartphone as a legitimate gaming platform. This pretty much paved the way for titles like PUBG, Call of Duty, Fortnite and many more to arrive in the smartphone space.

Exercise the players

The Pokemon franchise has always been about getting players out of their homes. This is why the title was almost exclusive to Nintendo handheld consoles. Note that the Switch is technically a portable platform as well. The smartphone seemed like a natural fit for gaming. Parents everywhere were happy for their kids to step outside, while kids were more than happy to walk around to catch that elusive Charizard or capture a gym. It was a multiplayer game in the best possible way. Meet friends, go places, do things together.

Brought the AR to the masses, a little …

Augmented reality has been experimented with by a number of different companies and platforms. The most notable of these was Microsoft and its portable Hololens. But Pokemon Go seemed to be doing pretty well. To be real, the AR in Pokemon Go wasn’t actually AR. It looked more like a 3D character added to the image from a camera. However, that was enough for Google and Apple to release ARCore and ARKit respectively to push for more AR games. Sadly, AR games have yet to take off with the closing of the last major AR title, Minecraft Earth, in June 2021.

Made the world adapt to the players

The thing about Pokemon Go is that the game made Pokemon Gyms and PokeStops extremely important, which obviously attracted a lot of players. These locations were selected on the basis of their notoriety. However, Niantic has not really notified these locations. So you can imagine the confusion as hundreds of players suddenly gather at locations, surprising the occupants. As such, many places such as monuments and religious places had to put up signs to deter people from entering private property. However, there were other places that seemed more welcoming to their new visitors. On the darker side of things, many people have died playing the game, leading authorities to warn users about the dangers of playing the game.

While Pokemon Go’s popularity has faded almost as quickly as it has grown, the game is still popular among hardcore gamers. In fact, gaming is still one of the biggest earners on mobile. Add to that the slew of regular updates the game receives, and it looks like the game will be a part of the culture for a very long time to come.

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