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The Resurrection Of Pokémon

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Unless you have been living on Jupiter for the past fortnight, you will have noticed the inescapable hysteria surrounding the 2016’s hottest new gaming fad – Pokémon Go. The app has taken the world by storm becoming the most downloaded app since it’s initial release on July 6th.

The internet has been flooded with news and reviews about the game with millions of users logging in to play each day. So how did it all come about?

It all goes back to the halcyon gaming days of the mid-1990’s. Japanese animation was all the rage something that was reflected in both television and computer games. Japanese companies such as Nintendo, Sony & SEGA ruled supreme over the gaming spectrum with millions of consoles sold worldwide.

However, 1n 1996 sales of Nintendo’s portable Game Boy, which was launched in 1989, had started to wane in Japan and the company was wondering what approach to take next.

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Then, Satoshi Tajiri’s Pokémon : Red & Blue  hit the shelves, the franchise was an instant hit domestically and exploded on to the worldwide market upon it’s release two years later two years later. By 1999, Pokémon was everywhere, and over the next decade the franchise has spawned countless games,  it’s own animated television series, an endless stream of merchandise and a series of animated movies.

Fast forward to 2014 and the Pokémon franchise had worn a bit thin. With the 20th anniversary of it’s launch coming up two years down the line, Nintendo needed something big to relaunch Pokemon into  public domain.

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The idea of the game was conceived  by Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata and Tsunekazu Ishihara of Pokémon as Google collaborated April Fool’s Joke known as the Pokémon Challenge.

Through the use of a cleverly produced YouTube video , Google maps & augmented reality software, a fake competition encouraging people to catch hidden Pokémon in real locations all over the world.

The ones who managed to “catch ’em all” would then be given a position in Google as a “Pokémon Master”. Ishihara coined the idea having being impressed with Ingress, an Augmented Reality game from California-based developers, Niantic.

Despite it’s humorous origins, Pokémon decided to take a more serious approach and began  exploring the possibility of evolving this idea into a possible gaming application. Niantic began the initial development of Pokémon Go  by using data from Ingress to populate the game.

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The official announcement of the game came on September 10th 2015, with a poignant dedication to Iwata who had sadly passed away two months previously. The beta test version was first announced in March 2016 with exclusivity to Japanese players.

The beta version was expanded to Australia and New Zealand the following month and to the United States in May with testing concluding on June 30th.

Then finally, Pokémon Go was released worldwide over the opening fortnight of July. The game has become a cultural phenomenon and has exploded the use augmented reality on to the scene. It has also, most importantly, resurrected the Pokémon franchise and boosted the share value of Nintendo to the highest point in the company’s history.

The astronomical success of Pokémon Go is a testament of how any flagging project can be revived with a simple conceptual idea, clever strategy and most importantly, good teamwork. 

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