Pokemon Go eludes cloning attempts by big game studios ⇥

Lots of interesting comments, from competing companies, in the above linked article, about the gaming phenomenon that is Pokemon Go: 

However, some gaming executives do not believe Pokemon Go is the future of gaming. Mobile scavenger hunts require physical activity and could be a hard sell to most video game players.

“It’s not easy to get people off of their couches,” said Wilhelm Taht, executive vice president of games at Angry Birds-creator Rovio Entertainment Ltd. “There have been a lot of tries in this area before.”

This comment flies in the face of clear evidence all over the world that players are more than happy to move around physically to play. I have personally never seen the park behind my house more utilised than it has been since the game officially released in Singapore. 

Some executives said they would not copy the game because it was a fad driven by the Pokemon brand and that it lacked social features, such as letting players talk and collaborate on a hunt.

The success in getting players onto their feet was seen as brilliant but difficult to replicate, and the deft use of mapping technology also sets a high bar.

Pokemon Go represents the next phases  in mobile gaming. What started with Paper Toss and Angry Birds has now matured into something unique to the platform, leveraging on all the technology (camera, physics engine and GPS) that a smart phone offers. 

Of course it definitely helps that the brand is so strong with twenty something year olds who grew up watching and playing Pokemon as kids. 

There is one area that offers a clear opportunity for rivals or for improvement in a new version of the game, industry executives said. Some of the most popular games have united players in virtual teams, building camaraderie.
“The game needs to be more social… where you can have group goals and possibly chat when you hunt for a Pokemon,” said MySpace creator and now CEO of mobile games studio SGN Games Inc, Chris DeWolfe.

There’s a comparison in the above linked article to the Nintendo Wii which I feel is very apt. 

When the Wii first came out it was the first console that shifted from traditional game pads to controls that focused on movement and motion tracking. The games at the time were rudimentary at best but that didn’t matter as it quickly developed a following among serious and casual gamers alike. 

Years later and the Nintendo Wii no longer dominates. Xbox and playstation both have motion tracking controllers and developers are now embracing VR for games to create even more immersive experiences. 

Nintendo may have led the way with their initial product but they were not able to hold on to their lead. Indeed the Wii was so successful that there wasn’t any pressure to further innovate and thus the game console has languished behind it’s rivals. 

Similarly with Pokemon Go — in this case developed by third party Niantic not Nintendo — the game has jumped levels above the competition in delivering a novel and unique experience for collecting the different game elements. How long this lead will last is anyone’s guess but you can bet that the next generation of augmented reality games will be simply incredible, having built upon what Niantic has established now. 

It also leaves me intrigued, what will the next generation gaming experience on the phone be like? The future as usual is full of endless possibilities but once we are there it always seems so ‘obvious’ how we got there at all.