Sunday, April 14 2024

It was early summer, just a few months ago. Millions of people around the world were chasing virtual Pokemon with their smartphones. It appeared to be the beginning of an incredible new social trend destined to leave a long trail behind it.

Instead, it has shown to be just a short and fleeting summer fad. At least according to the latest data released by three analysis companies, Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey and Apptopia, who recently revealed a sharp dive in the virtual game. According to their analysis, since August there has been a decrease in active users and in downloads of the Pokemon Go app, compared with the initial boom after its launch. Even the average time spent on the game and game shares have declined sharply.

Pokemon Go: Numbers of a true craze

It’s probably too early to say whether Pokemon Go has already had its day. But the numbers speak for themselves. After reaching a staggering 100 million downloads in its first week of launch, and 45 million active players per day by mid-July – monstrous numbers never before achieved by any app – Pokemon Go is beginning to show its first signs of tiredness. Between August and September it lost as many as 15 million players – almost a third. Yes, it still has another 30 million users, but the decline is significant. What are the causes? Officially, none have been revealed, but it could be that initial curiosity and enthusiasm for the game (also fueled by the excessive media hype that tends to occur in these cases) has waned.

However, according to experts at Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey and Apptopi, the cause probably isn’t a simple and natural physiological decline, but a genuine lack of interest in the app that has arisen amongst users as the game’s excessive repetitiousness causes boredom and fatigue. In fact, it would probably take   a new version 2.0 with new features and gaming possibilities to reinvigorate it – or its game over for the app.

What is Pokemon Go and how does it work

So how does the app Pokemon Go operate? Primarily through a GPS map that reproduces on a mobile phone the user’s actual location, where the player must find and catch virtual Pokémon, which are hidden behind a hotel or a hedge, in a store or in a square – literally everywhere.

Once captured, it is possible to train them and then challenge the other players in Pokémon tournaments. Behind the game and its success is augmented reality, a technology that combines the real and virtual worlds, perfectly overlapping one over the other, and which could have in the coming years huge scope for expansion, and not only in the world of video games.

Who are Pokemon Go users? They are mainly young people under 30, but there are also older players. Sociologists and experts have observed that Pokemon Go can lead to highly childish impulses and a regressive state of immaturity, a limbo halfway between an adolescence and adulthood, bogging down sufferers in a mobile quagmire from which it can become increasingly difficult to escape.

Pokemon Go: The risks and dangers

The danger of withdrawing from the world with Pokemon Go – becoming completely absorbed by the game, and becoming physically and psychologically isolated, is very strong. Since this app was released, it has not been uncommon to see people walking the streets in search of Pokemon, lost in their virtual hunting and victim to an almost convulsive obsession, threatening to cause disruption and accidents and, in some cases, also endangering their safety. It is an isolation different from that of ‘hikikomori’, but it is no less tragic and dangerous.

But at the end of everything, seeing on television the crowds of young people in mega rallies hunting through fields for inexistent yellow monsters makes it hard not to laugh.

So now that 15 million people have ceased their virtual hunt for Pokemon, the real question to ask is whether they will return to the real world or continue, in other ways that might be even worse, to live in the virtual one? In the coming months, dear readers, we will surely find out.


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