The last time I heard anyone talk about augmented reality I was interning at 360i, working on the USA Network Account. I forget exactly what show we were referring to, but they were considering creating an augmented reality app for some premiere. I thought it was the coolest thing: the true merging of the digital world and the real one. But then after the awe passed, I remember wondering how practical it was, and if it would ever go anywhere.
It’s now four years later, and it looks as though Pokemon Go has answered that question for me. Let me start by saying I’m not a fan of Pokemon (I mean, when I was in high school I learned a lot about it from the kids I sat for. I think one of them even tried to teach me the card game, but it didn’t stick.). However, I do think that the Pokemon Go app is incredible. I’m not talking about the whole “geeks finally getting out of their houses or basements to do geeky things”, but how they took a game – a game that has traditionally been a solitary activity – and turned it into something that blends the virtual world of Pokemon with the one outside the door.
Now, I haven’t played yet, but what I’m really interested in seeing is how long this is going to last. I’ve heard about people quitting their jobs to trek across the country to “catch ’em all” and people creating meetup groups to catch their Pokemon together – but what I think about is how long the craze will last. Granted, as with all services, the app will hit a saturation point where downloads and active users will taper off. That part is natural. There are only so many subscribers an app or a service is going to get. But after a few months, a few years, how many of those users will still be active? This is the type of game that requires the player to constantly be on their phone, as they could stumble upon a Pokemon at any time, in any place. How many of these people will still be interested, or have the energy, to constantly be on the lookout?