Although seeing groups of young people glued to their phones is nothing new, it is quite surprising to see them congregating outside of churches, village greens and historical landmarks.
Pokémon Go has finally been released in the UK (despite being available through unofficial sources for over a week at the time of writing), much to the happiness of children everywhere... as well as the twenty-somethings that grew up with Ash, Misty and Brock adventuring across the Kanto region. Despite being free at the point of sale, the game has allegedly brought in over $14million for developer Niantic (through micro-transactions and has sent Nintendo shares soaring). So what's the secret to its success?
Brand power cannot be overlooked - it is a highly-anticpated entry in a massive franchise that costs no money to download and play. The awareness of Pokémon as a product is nearly universal due to it being at the forefront of children's entertainment in the form of video games, TV shows, films, books and the like since the 1990s. As a multiplayer game, the larger the in-game community is, the bigger the draw to play it will be.
The fear of missing out is a driving factor in one of the other major selling points - the community spirit the game generates is almost unheard of in videogaming. After playing it for a short while, everyone has a story about something that has happened - catching a rare Pokémon with their last Pokéball, a street gathering where dozens of people were collecting together or, most pleasantly, finding places of interest or pieces of local history that they never knew existed in their home town.
Fundamentally, it rejects the usual notion of videogaming being synonymous to staying indoors as it rewards venturing out into the world in a way that can be enjoyed solo or in groups. There will be a large amount of people that will dismiss the product as a children's game - it is indeed designed for the younger audience - but that would be also be dismissing the largely unmentioned health benefit to the afore-mentioned twenty-something's dabbling in nostalgia. On a personal level, I have walked almost 25km since I got the game last week, something I would never have felt compelled to do if not for my seemingly endless quest to find a Moltres.