Pokemon Go, the extremely awaited augmented reality game from Niantic Labs, is finally available for download for iOS and Android mobile devices in the U.S., as well as in New Zealand and Australia.
This innovative mobile game encourages fans to search far and wide in the real world to discover Pokémon. Pokemon GO is available for download at no charge on the App Store and Google Play.
Niantic, the former Google unit behind the popular augmented reality game Ingress, has teamed up with The Pokemon Company and Nintendo to bring the iconic Pokemon title to mobile platforms.
Pokemon Go could be a game-changer in terms of presenting augmented reality to the masses in the customer electronics market.
“We’re excited that Pokemon fans and gamers can now start exploring their very own neighborhoods and cities to capture Pokemon using the Pokemon Go app,” said Niantic founder John Hanke.
A new Pokemon Go wearable device will allow users to capture Pokemon and harvest items from Pokestops without taking their phones out of their pockets, he added.
The release follows several weeks of field testing in the U.S., Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Among features added to the game are the ability to take pictures of various Pokemon encounters and sharing them with others.
The app is free to download, but users can make in-game purchases from 99 US cents to $99.99. The app is adjusted for smartphone use but not tablet use.
After Niantic Labs’ spin off from Google in 2015, the investment partners, which include The Pokemon Company, Nintendo and Google, invested $30 million in bid to make a thoughtful run at creating an entirely new gaming experience on a mobile platform. The effort would rely on the company’s strengths in geo location technology, storytelling and game design.
“With all of the recent focus on VR, where there are still too many different platforms and too few users or good games, we kind of forgot about AR, which works better than VR with existing mobile platforms,” noted Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
Pokemon, originally launched in 1996 in Japan, has developed into one of the world’s biggest platforms for children, leading to animated television shows, video games, trading cards, movies and live events.
“Pokemon is a global franchise with more impact on kids than almost any other franchise in history,” said Ted Pollack, senior gaming analyst at Jon Peddie Research.
A high-profile gaming title like Pokemon and a brand leader like Nintendo can help push AR games more into the mainstream, Kent said, but he also noted that these type of experiences are much more involved than the more popular, casual gaming titles.