Dan Brody Chief Information and Technology Officer CITO

The Pokémon Go Invasion Is Unstoppable


  • With a peak of 26 million active players, Pokémon Go is the most successful mobile game ever in the US, surpassing even Candy Crush Saga at its peak of popularity.
  • The game employs augmented-reality technology to combine live video with computer graphics, encouraging players to go outside and explore their surroundings to find virtual monsters.
  • Retailers are seeing the additional foot traffic the game has generated as a mixed blessing, as not all players are buying in stores, but they can benefit from the phenomenon by offering players “Lures” and “PokéStops” and by supporting teams.


Pokémon Go has experienced wild success since its July 6 launch in the US, becoming the most successful US mobile game ever, despite some minor glitches and server crashes, even surpassing Candy Crush Saga in popularity. There are opportunities for retailers to participate in this huge cultural phenomenon. Some stores and malls are already seeing additional (wanted and, in some cases, unwanted) store traffic as a result of the game’s popularity, and generating revenue from merchandise, but stores near PokéStops can see further benefits by setting up “Lures” to bring players into their stores. And retailers can offer their PokéStops (where players can get Poké Balls to increase their power) and sponsor a team. They can also tie themselves to Pokémon Go via social media.


Pokémon is a video game, originally released in 1995 for the Nintendo Game Boy, in which the player captures and battles tiny monsters called Pokémon, which is a Westernized version of the Japanese phrase for “pocket monster.” The Pokémon Company brings in about $1.5 billion in revenue annually, and the franchise generated revenues of nearly $58 billion through 2015 from sales of more than 200 million video game units. Game creator Satoshi Tajiri has said he loved video games and insect collecting, and so collaborated with game company Nintendo and a graphic designer on the original Pokémon. In all the game’s permutations since its launch in 1995, there has been a total of 722 known species of Pokémon (151 are present in Pokémon Go). The individually named monsters resemble a range of species, from turtles to pigeons to humanoids, and the most famous one is Pikachu, a plump, banana-yellow rodent with rosy cheeks. Game play centers on catching Pokémon and battling others. Players can catch wild Pokémon using Poké Balls or defeat them in a battle to gain experience and learn new moves. Players possess a functional database called a Pokédex, which collects a Pokémon’s data after it has been captured.


The newest version of Pokémon Go runs on smartphones and uses augmented-reality technology to combine images from a phone’s camera with computer graphics of the Pokémon figures. The game generates pictures of the monsters appearing on city streets and in various other real-world locations. The game was developed by Pokémon Co. and Niantic, a spin-off of Google parent Alphabet. While previous versions of Pokémon were video games that ran on handheld devices or consoles, in the mobile version, the player physically moves around the neighborhood to locate Pokémon and “throw” Poké Balls at them to capture them. Players can also participate in battles at PokéGyms, physical locations where players gather to pit their monsters against others and grow their teams. The game was initially released in only six countries—the US, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the UK and Italy — and was rolled out in another 26 countries on July 16 and in Canada on July
17. The game finally became available in its countries of origin Japan on July 22 and in Hong Kong on July 24.

The Apple App Store includes instructions and a description of the game:

  • Venusar, Charizard, Blastoise, Pikachu and many other Pokémon
    have been discovered on planet Earth!
  • Now’s your chance to discover and capture the Pokémon all around
    you—so get your shoes on, step outside and explore the world
    . You’ll join one of the three teams and battle for the prestige
    and ownership of Gyms with your Pokémon at your side.
  • Pokémon are out there, and you need to find them. As you walk
    around a neighborhood, your smartphone will vibrate when there’s
    a Pokémon nearby. Take aim and throw a Poké Ball… You’ll have to
    stay alert, or it might get away!
  • Search far and wide for Pokémon and items.
  • As you level up, you’ll be able to catch more powerful Pokémon to
    complete your Pokédex. You can add to your collection by hatching
    your Pokémon Eggs based on the distances you walk. Help your
    Pokémon evolve by catching many of the same kind.
  • Take on Gym battles and defend your Gym.
  • As your Charmander evolves to Chameleon and then Charizard,
    you can battle together to defeat a Gym and assign your Pokémon
    to defend it against all comers.
  • It’s time to get moving—your real-life adventures await!

Players who want to capture monsters more quickly can make in-app purchases of PokéCoins (100 PokéCoins cost $0.99; 14,500 cost $99.99), which they can exchange for extra Poké Balls, extra lives and other items.


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