Pokémon Go and its impending death

  • Rajiv Makhni, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jul 23, 2016 20:53 IST
Somewhere near Christmas, Pokémon Go will turn into Pokémon, what?

Pokémon Go is a fad! Just like hula hoops, Tetris, Rubik’s cube, Tamagotchi and flash mobs – it’ll die a brutal and devastating death in a short while! Every person walking around with their phone held high, trying to collect all the monsters while being a traffic hazard, won’t be doing so! Somewhere near Christmas this year, Pokémon Go will turn into Pokémon, what?

Yes, it’s a very addictive game. Yes, it’s introduced a kind of augmented reality (AR) for the masses. Yes, it’s made Nintendo richer by a few billion dollars, and yes, it’s become one of the fastest downloaded and most used apps on a mobile phone ever! And that’s the reason it’s going to self-destruct and implode very soon.

The idiot’s guide to Pokémon Go

Pokémon stands for pocket monsters and has been around forever as a Japanese video game, a card-trading game and an anime series. Pokémon Go seems to be inspired by a Google April Fools’ Day prank a few years ago. It was released as an AR (merges game play with real life) game in three countries and a whole flurry of them right after. As you download the game, a rudimentary map of your city shows up and as you roam around, your ‘radar’ shows you all the kinds of Pokémon you can capture to start your army. You can also get eggs which can be incubated.

How to start playing in India?

For Android phones, you download the game’s APK (android package kit) and sideload it to your phone by connecting it to a computer. Try to get the ‘real’ APK (apkpure.com seems to have a legitimate file). For iOS devices, you need a new Apple ID with an address in one of the countries where it’s officially released and then download it from the app store. The international version release is around the corner.

The graphics are from the 1980s and the monsters hardly do anything

Is it fun?

Totally! The most awesome fun you’ll have after a long time. Besides the constant data connection and the battery life that it will suck out of your phone, the cars and bikes that will constantly honk, the angry people you will meet who may not appreciate your trespassing to ‘go get them all’, and the amount of money you will finally spend in buying in-game ‘monsters’ rather than finding them.

Good exercise to meet, discover and do business

Only if walking down a street while shouting “hatch, hatch” is the exercise you wanted. And ‘discovering’ your city may mean discovering that smart thieves have worked out locations where people will converge. Not to think about the weird places it sends you – graveyards, toilets and places of worship. Pokémon Go chauffeurs that take you on a monster ‘stop and capture’ trip and Pokémon-guided tours with tough-to-get monsters are also part of the package.

There are hundreds of Pokémon characters including Golbat, Rapidash, Lickitung, Growlithe, Pikachu, Psyduck, Cubone and Gyarados

Start of AR movement on a global scale?

This isn’t AR at all. The monsters appear animated on the streets, but the graphics are from the ’80s. The monsters do nothing more than just float over cars. This is one more in a list of ‘digital addictions’ that makes people interact less with real people and more with their phone screens.

So what happens now?

Nintendo will make a few billions off in-game purchases and the general euphoria, the game will release in more countries and more widespread Pokémon mania will strike. Thirty days later, it’ll all die as people will realise how tiresome the idea is.

Are you sure?

Pokémon Go is a fad fuelled by social media. Now it’s time for me to go as my Rs 500-an-hour Pokémon chauffeur ride is waiting. The Defence Colony flyover in Delhi, I hear, has a bunch of monsters, including the ones missing in my collection that I’ve been accumulating for the past one week.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, July 24,2016

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