Niantic’s monster hit, Pokémon GO was released on this day in 2016 throughout Australia and North America. The augmented reality game inspired a genre.
Pokémon GO started life as a joke in 2014. An April fools collaboration between Nintendo, The Pokémon Company and Google called the ‘Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge’ sewed the seeds for what would become a global mobile phenomenon.
With the Google Maps challenge in mind Tsunekazu Ishihara, of The Pokémon Company, was a fan of Niantic’s first game, ‘Ingress’, and soon saw the potential for a Pokémon game that utilised the same platform and placed cute recognisable characters into real world locations.
On July 6th 2016 Pokémon GO was launched in Australia and North America. Niantic deliberately opted for a slow roll out to ensure the stability of the platform. A European launch following on July 13th, Japan on July 22nd and India much later on December 14th.
The buzz surrounding the game drew a lot of attention. Suddenly everyone from businessmen in suits to pasty nerds were rubbing shoulders in their local neighbourhoods desperately seeking Pokémon. Such was demand that the game suffered infuriating periods of downtime as servers struggled to cope under the pressure of so many simultaneous users.
Three years since launch and Pokémon GO is a much more reliable gaming experience and continues to maintain a strong and loyal fanbase of players thanks to the company’s innovation and dedication to introducing new features and events.
The number of Pokémon available to catch in the game has risen to nearly 500 and Pokémon GO has surpassed 1 billion downloads this year.
Expect lots of fun surprises today, and for the rest of July, as Pokémon GO celebrates its third birthday.