Friday, May 27

Loyal to Pikachu: the secrets of the enormous success of Pokémon GO


Updated

The mobile video game, which has an extraordinarily active community, celebrates its first non-virtual meeting in Seville when it is about to turn six

Two attendees at the Safari Zone, held this weekend in Seville.
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The Alamillo Park, in Seville, It is not usually very crowded on Fridays, according to Google itself, and yet hundreds of people are spread out, in groups, on the lawn. They all look at the mobile, attentive. Some make gestures of victory and suddenly start running, stampeding, towards a tree about 100 meters away. Someone yells: There’s a Taurus, a shiny taurus! and the notice alerts more visitors, who flock to the area. At first glance there is nothing there, but on their mobiles the story is different, the world is different and what awaits in that tree, according to their screens, is a Pokémon.

The mobile video game Pokémon GO, which will be six years old in July, already has more than a billion downloads for both Android and iOS and for the first time in Spain, has held an event called SafariZone that ends this Sunday to which thousands of people have attended. The entire Parque del Alamillo has been decorated for the occasion with rest areas, several positions to charge the mobile and food trucks.

Fans of the video game next to a figure of Pikachu, one of the Pok
Fans of the video game next to a figure of Pikachu, one of the first generation Pokémon.THE WORLD

The case of this game is worthy of study: it has achieved survive more than five years maintaining a stable community of regular users and has also been able to attract people of all ages. In fact, during the first hours of the event it was difficult to find players under 40 years of age.

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One of the early risers, Stephan Williams, is an Australian retiree who takes advantage of this event to get to know Seville. I started playing in 2016, using it as an excuse to go out for a walk, since since I stopped working it seemed that the armchair had kidnapped me, he explains. Williams is a multitasker, he manages to hold two mobiles with one hand, use the other to play on both devices and talk to us at the same time. I had never finished connecting with my two children, I had them very old and I have always felt like their grandfather, unable to find hobbies or tastes to share. However, everything changed when during a family reunion I found out that my children went out on weekends to sydney park with my grandchildren to play Pokémon GO. I was already level 30 in the game and they couldn’t resist the invitation to team up with me, and it’s become a tradition ever since, she says. Although his relatives have not been able to travel for more than 15,000 kilometers that separate Australia from Spain, says that he is capturing extra pokmon to be able to exchange them when he returns.

The case of this Australian is not the only one. 60% of the attendees have arrived by plane from outside Spain and approximately a third are from out of Europe, says Philip Marz, head of marketing for Pokémon GO. Citizens of the United States, Latin America and even the Philippines like Margarita Cuyegkeng, who takes advantage of the moment of answering us to rest from the phone and leave her son as a relay in the game. I didn’t even know what Pokémon was, but my son came home from school one day determined that he wanted to play. It seemed small to me. So we made a deal to play together on my phone until I was old enough to have a device of my own. In the end I ended up hooked more than him, says Cuyegkeng, as she puts her son’s T-shirt on him. Pikachu.

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A family ready to go 'hunt' Pok
A family ready to go out to ‘hunt’ Pokémon.THE WORLD

In 2016, a study conducted by Survey Monkey revealed that Pokémon GO became the video game with the most active users per day in the United States, surpassing Candy Crush. And during the first few months it even outperformed social media in average daily usage time.

The fact that this mobile video game has managed to gather thousands of people in a face-to-face event, six years after it was released, makes it a rare bird, since the mobile video game market is ephemeral, having an inconstant flow of active users whose peak usually appears in the first months of the game’s life, adding later uninstalls and people who do not open the application again. According to Flurry, an American mobile advertising, monetization and analytics company, typically a mobile app begins to experience a period of abandonment approximately three months after reaching the peak of its use. Taking into account that Pokémon GO had its peak almost six years ago, its survival is quite a feat achieved thanks to its very heterogeneous group of users. Many friendships we see today at the event had their origins in the digital world, highlights Humberto Kam, director of global live events for Pokémon GO. This is where you can experience the metaverse because everything is built in a digital world, in the app, coming to life here in Seville, he adds.

Cristina Gonzlez has been attached to Pikachu (a yellow mouse-like creature) and Eeve (in the form of an adorable puppy) since she was in school. I changed pokmon with the link cable of the console game boy during breaks, then I started doing it from my mobile and that’s how I met my husband, she says as he celebrates having captured an alternative and rare version of digital creatures. His love story began in 2018, in Madrid’s Parque de Retirementat the foot of the Monument to Alfonso XII.

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In this area, in the digital world of videogames, several PokStops, places where players can pick up items that help them and where creatures appear to capture. That is why today, especially when the good weather arrives, it is still common to see several people standing with their mobile phones. This is how Cristina and Kevin met, sitting on the steps of the monument, hunting pokmon from afternoon until sunset, at which point she started talking to him. We ask them what they have in their bag at the merchandising stand, a mini Pokémon T-shirt for their future child, with whom they plan to share the hobby that brought them together. Without a doubt, a game capable of crossing generations.

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