We thought 2016 would solely be the year of Virtual Reality.

But just at the moment, it's Augmented Reality's time to shine.

Ah, that moment when you nonchalantly decide you don’t mind missing the next train home from work, so you can catch that Gastly by the train station entrance. That’s when you know Pokéfever has struck (any nineties kids will know what I’m talking about).

Hot on the heels of our previous post on Mobile Gameshave you been Jelly Jumping? – what else could we be looking at this time, besides Pokémon GO? You’ve read &/or heard it all: in a little bit over a fortnight, it’s proved to be an absolute behemoth of a smash hit. It’s so successful that it’s already breaking records as the biggest mobile game the world has ever seen.

We’ll bet that you’ve probably been playing it, or at least seen plenty of others enjoying the experience while out and about. Over at Nintendo’s HQ, those folks must be pretty pleased with how this long-awaited jump into mobile is panning out. And what a jump! We think the following tweet sums up their success nicely:

As a free-to-play mobile game, GO is also doing something most apps of this kind find… well, quite challenging (short of a lot of intrusive advertising). That's right, it’s already making money – and a lot of it, at that. Around $2 million per day, having brought in approximately $14 million across both iOS and Android platforms since release. And the only way is up from here, as McDonalds and other brand name giants are lining up to get in on the action.

What Effect is Pokémon GO Having?

All those numbers and big businesses aside, what effect is Pokémon GO actually having, at a grass roots level, for real people like you and me? Exercise is a very positive and prominent example. In and of itself, this reality of the game is remarkable, as gamers don’t exactly have a reputation for being physically-active.

In GO, players have no choice but to be active; walking triggers everything, from eggs hatching, to the encounters with Pokémon that make up the game. Walking around new places also opens up the opportunity to find different monsters than those you’d keep finding in the same places you usually frequent. That’s why a huge part of the fun is exploring unfamiliar territory and seeing what crops up. I can also personally corroborate this; on the first day GO was live, I took close to 17,000 steps, and every day since I’ve walked at least 10,000. If this isn’t a positive side effect of being hooked on a game, then – frankly – I don’t know what is.

Moreover, across reddit and forums are plenty of stories detailing how this game is helping those who struggle with depression, anxiety, and other issues related to mental health. Check out this Kotaku article for an in-depth story: it's one individual's journey, as they begin to navigate their way through social anxiety, with the help of this app.

Team Dauntless, having already taken over a nearby gym!

My Personal Opinion

I’ve been surprised by how much fun I’ve had with it so far. While I enjoyed picking it up and making my way to level 5 – I chose Team Mystic, of course – it wasn’t until two days into playing that the whole experience really ‘clicked’ with me.

Prior to this, I hadn’t really played any Pokémon game since the Blue version on the Gameboy – (which really is ‘back in the day’ by this point!) But the GO experience captures the same feel-good essence of those original outings. Yes, the mechanics of Pokémon have been liberally adapted, but this had to be done, in order for GO to play well on smart devices, while welcoming in a totally new audience of players.

But in spite of the mechanics of the game being liberally adapted in this way, the feeling of chancing upon that Pokémon you’ve been hoping for still feels pretty magical, even after all this time. For this 90s kid, so far it’s been a real nice, feel-good throwback to chunky Gameboy link cables and plenty more nostalgia besides. And as I stop typing, I know it’s inevitable that I’ll instinctively glance at my phone to see if any new ’mons are nearby, waiting to be caught.

The Final Word (For Now)

Don’t let the July release date fool you. While the timing of its release might hint otherwise, I would strongly caution against writing Pokémon GO off as just another passing summertime fad.

Not only do creators Niantic Labs have plenty more features to add into the game to complete the experience, I anticipate they’ll time the release of such features to pique interest at the most strategic times. Given the response we’ve seen within the space of a fortnight(!), I doubt they’ll have any trouble maintaining their momentum, as the game only gets bigger and better.

The real question we should be asking is: are you ready to catch ‘em all?