By now I’m sure you’ve heard of Pokémon Go. The anticipated augmented reality mobile game has been rolling out worldwide all week, and the internet is understandably going insane over it in one of the most successful stealth releases of all time.
Since the announcement of the game by the Pokémon Company and Niantic late last year, the hype for Pokémon Go has been an underlying constant for fans of the series itching for a new Pokémon experience. Although excited, gamers have been hesitant to blow their expectations out of the water, as Nintendo preferred to stay quiet on the subject.
Besides Niantic’s previous foray into augmented reality games, Ingress, this is a genre that is relatively unexplored by the average gamer. What players would actually be doing in Pokémon Go was a big question mark on the possibilities of the game’s success.
But then information slowly came out. Through Pokémon Go’s successful beta in May and June, we learned about the Poke Shops and gyms generated by public landmarks in local areas. We began to understand how we could evolve our Pokémon, and how we could fight with them to conquer gyms for either the Red, Blue, or Yellow team.
Then at E3 this past June, we learned that the game was aiming for a release worldwide in July. When in July? Nintendo continued to stay silent.
This past Monday, Pokémon Go appeared on the app stores for Android and iOS devices in Australia and New Zealand. Needless to say, fans went berserk. In a July with few exciting releases on the horizon, Pokémon Go captured the attention of every gamer immediately.
The big problem? As of Monday night, the game was locked to a region thousands of miles away, with no information about when the app would cross the Pacific Ocean and land in North America.
In all likelihood, releasing the app in a smaller market is a great move for Niantic. The passionate fans in those regions acted as a sample size of what the developer can expect to see in the much larger United States.
But stealth releasing the anticipated game in Australia and New Zealand did much more than just provide a sample size of what to expect in larger territories. It catapulted the hype for this mobile game to brand new heights. What a gamer wants more than anything is a game that he or she cannot have.
Future Pokémon Masters spent nearly two days refreshing the app store on the hour, waiting for that moment when Pokémon Go would appear on their screens. In the meantime, they inhaled any information they could coming out of our friends down south. Social media feeds exploded with screengrabs of Magikarps found in the oddest of places, and players catching Pokémon in their work offices.
All the while, players waited around the world, itching to put on some sneakers and go hunting for some wild Pokémon.
Then on Wednesday night, prospective trainers in the United States finally got their wish, and took to the streets en masse to become the very best they could.
Pokémon Go is, for the time being, the game on everyone’s lips, and the hype train moves forward as gamers in Europe and Canada continue to wait for their turn. Will the popularity continue and find a huge following weeks and months down the road? We’ll have to wait and see.
But for now, you’ll have to excuse me as I walk the streets, perpetually building my Squirtle Squad.
Video Source: Nintendo via YouTube