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Pokémon Go Is Augmented Reality’s Global Breakthrough Moment

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In the event you haven’t heard, Pokemon Go, the new smartphone-based game from Nintendo and Niantic is a smash hit. It’s now the most downloaded app for both the iPhone and Android devices in multiple markets, including the US.

The game was released late last week and, remarkably, it has added more than $10 billion to Nintendo’s market cap. It’s already a global phenomenon. The app is free but monetization comes through in-app purchases.

The game requires players to move through the physical world to different locations and interact with Pokémon characters on screen. The game layers animations over real-world locations and maps.

The game was developed by Niantic, Inc., which was spun out of Google in October of last year. Niantic is run by John Hanke, who used to be the head of Google Maps/Local for years. Niantic initially developed Field Trip, a location-based app, and later Ingress, an augmented reality game that was popular but not mainstream.

Now with Pokémon Go, the company has a breakthrough hit. It’s also a breakthrough moment for augmented reality, a technology that has been around for years but had not yet caught on in a meaningful way. That is until now.

Million of people around the world playing this game will become “educated” about augmented reality and open to trying other, similar games and experiences. At LSA 16, Aisle411’s Nathan Pettyjohn gave an augmented reality demonstration on stage and discussed its potential as an interactive shopping tool.

In the wake of Pokémon Go, that future has become much more likely.

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