Pokéfans of the UK rejoice, this past week has felt like an eternity, but smash hit and cultural phenomenon Pokémon GO has finally formally launched in the UK.
The game, created by Niantic Labs, which was once owned by Google, delivers on the promise of letting players actually find, capture and battle Pokémon in the real world. It does this through a mix of location data from a player’s smartphone and augmented reality – overlaying virtual Pokémon characters into the real world using your smartphone’s camera.
If you haven’t yet heard of Pokémon GO, where have you been? Everything you need to know to bring you up to speed beyond what we’ve already covered is here: What is Pokémon GO? The new AR mobile game explained
Pokémon GO has already proven to be an enormous success in the initial launch markets of Japan, New Zealand, Australia and North America, but Europeans have been clamouring for the game since it first hit app stores elsewhere – like a doe-eyed child, face pressed against the glass at the local pet store. One week on however and now, finally, we have access to it on both Android and iOS.
Since the game launched communities have formed both online and in reality, with players teaming up to find and catch Pokémon en-masse as well as battling at any one of the thousands of gyms strewn across the globe. There have been reports of players being robbed at Pokéstops, the discovery of a dead body on Pokémon GO-based excursion for one unfortunate trainer and even a supposed car crash because of the game (which turned out to be a hoax), but there have also been positive stories of reduced anxiety in players with mental health issues, a dog shelter that had players walk dogs whilst hunting for Pokémon and players joining forces to clean up graffiti in their local towns.
Pokémon GO might be the single most influential game of the decade based on the initial tsunami of attention from gamers and the media that it’s attracted, but only time will tell if Niantic has created a Pokémon experience with real staying power.