《Pokemon Go》非常简单。与现在的大多数手机游戏一样它的目的便是帮助玩家消耗时间和金钱。玩家可以在游戏中购买道具并升级。所以我认为这其实和老虎机差不多。大多数玩家在玩了一阵子游戏后便会感到无聊（就像我在玩《FarmVille》和《Candy Crush》那样），但是一部分玩家却会在此花钱购买虚拟道具。在产业中这类型玩家被称为鲸鱼玩家，一些大型游戏便致力于捕抓这类型玩家。像Zynga和King便从中获取了巨大的利益。所以我认为真正的博彩元素要进入游戏中只是时间的问题了。
但是《Pokemon Go》似乎又和典型的捕鲸类老虎机游戏不同。尽管它们拥有相似的游戏机制，但这款游戏也还有其它内容。我不认为玩家只要通过花钱就能够获胜，但游戏中的某些内部玩家交易可能改变某些情况。我对其中的lure机制更感兴趣。有些玩家会发现自己身处Pokestops附近能够花钱去购买lures将其他玩家带到自己这里。他们会在自己的Facebook页面发布这样的内容：一起来抓Pokemon并一起喝杯饮料吧。并且比起《Candy Crush》，这款游戏所拥有的现实世界元素也让它显得更加有趣。人们可以预见那些他们本来不会遇到的人，并且可以前往那些他们本来不会前往的场所。这便是非常强大的推动力量。
而关于这款游戏错失良机的一方面便是缺少品牌商品。就像任何一款大型游戏或暑期大片的发行/发布都伴随着相关的T恤，帽子和人形公仔的推出。但是我们却找不到任何与《Pokemon Go》相关的产品。而再一次地，网上开始有人自行制作了3D印刷产品，Etsy T恤。果然生活总是能让个人找到其它出路。
我看过一些小孩在谈论自己因为角色提高了分数。当我还年轻的时候我也因此去玩过《龙与地下城》。而现在这俨然已经成为了流行文化的一部分。就像《我的世界》便被用于教育项目中。Cosplay角色扮演也成为了人们积极讨论的内容。迪士尼不还在创建一个Star Wars Land！我们可以看到现在Geek已经变成了一个非常酷的风潮了。
Pokémon Go: Why Now?
by Josh Marinacci
Wandering through campus we saw them everywhere. In small groups of two or three they walked slowly. Looking around. Pausing every few seconds to check their phones, then moving on a few more steps. Walk, check, walk, check. The mild summer weather and warm evening brought them out in larger numbers, so I wondered how many would come out to play in the rainy winter six months from now. Of course, it might not even still be a thing then. After all, it wasn’t a thing two weeks ago.
Two guys stopped in a pickup truck next to us. “Hey, did you guys see that big Kakuna?!”. “Yes”, one of my companions replied. “Over that way”, she said, pointing to the quad. “Thanks”. We speculated: why now? People have been trying to make this work for years but never got critical mass. Why now? My friend replied, “One word: Pokémon”.
Being forty I’m too old to have played Pokémon. I was finishing my finals in college when the original Gameboy game came out. At the time I thought: Oh cute. It’s Final Fantasy for kids. I dismissed it as a kids’ game, and later a kids card game, movie, tv show, and everything else that happens to hot intellectual property. And I was right. It was a kids’ game, if well made and marketed. The Pokédex played on kids desire to collect things and always have new stuff. (as the now parent of a five year old, I understand this well). I know several people who said they learned to read from Pokémon. Catching ‘em all was their incentive to learn new words and go through the repetition required for good reading skills. So.. fine. It’s a game for kids. But why now?
The Whale Hunters
Pokémon Go is pretty simple. Like most mobile games now it’s purpose built to get you to waste time and eventually dollars. You can buy items and upgrades. I think of them as little more than slot machines, psychologically designed to get you to tap a virtual lever for your virtual treat pellet. Most players get bored after a while (as I did with both FarmVille and Candy Crush), but some tiny percentage will spend real cash on virtual items. In the industry they call these people whales, as in the big game they are hunting with harpoons. Zynga and King have ridden this wave to billions of dollars of valuation (and subsequent crashes). I expect it’s only a matter of time before real casinos get in on the game.
Pokémon Go, however, just feels different than the typical whale hunter slot machine games. While it has similar mechanics, it’s still something else. I don’t think you can actually pay to win, but there’s talk of inter-player trade that should shake things up. I’m more interested in the lures. Some businesses who happened to find themselves near Pokéstops have purchased lures, with real dollars, to bring people to their establishments. Posting on their Facebook pages: Come catch’em all, and have a drink too. (How long until stores start to do actual in-game location based advertising?) The real world component of the game clearly make it far more interesting than the Candy Crushes of the world. People are walking around meeting people they wouldn’t otherwise meet, visiting locations they wouldn’t otherwise visit. That’s a very powerful thing.
Change is Hard
As we started walking back to the car this was our topic of conversation. All three of my friends had come down from Portland to visit the Pokéstops here at the university. They are all younger and had played the games as kids but hadn’t really thought about it until a week ago. We noticed the power of the game. Here is something simple that has gotten lots of people to go outside. My friends know people who have changed their daily habits. They use different routes for morning runs and commutes. They walk outside for their lunch instead of staying in the break room. One of them has personally felt more positive and energized thanks to the extra walking and sunshine. Could Pokémon be the way to change national health?
It’s hard to understand the importance of the fact that people have actually changed their daily habits. Changing behavior on a large scale is really, really hard. Proctor and Gamble would pay billions for this power. We jokingly discussed what would happen if this power fell into the wrong hands. Luring hordes of kids to a particular location? Getting people to walk through a back alley instead of the main street? There’s a Stephen King horror novel waiting to be written: a murderous clown lures children to their death with virtual kittens. Or a foreign government takes control and uses it to shape traffic to around their surveillance cameras. Clearly there’s a dystopian novel waiting to be written as well.
But still, “why now?” I asked. The game is built around data assembled for their previous effort Ingress, which at its height never had a fraction of popularity of Pokémon Go. Nitanic, the company who built the game, clearly didn’t anticipate the popularity. The app barely works, crashes constantly, and can’t connect to the server half the time. Reports are that the company is desperately trying to scale up the backend. (Hey guys, come talk to us about our globally replicated Data Stream Network). Despite the troubles it’s a smash hit. And the hive mind is already at working around the bugs.
Never Bet Against the Hive Mind
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from twenty years of internetting, it’s that you never bet against the hive mind. The collective brain of humanity has already identified how to work around the many bugs so that the fun never ends. How to Overcome Glitches, Bugs, and Freezes in Pokemon Go, is but one of many guides assembled from the Internet’s collective intelligence.
Another glaring missed opportunity is the lack of branded merchandise. No big game or summer blockbuster would launch without matching t-shirts, hats, and action figures. Yet there is no Pokémon Go swag to be found. Once again the internet has taken it upon itself to serve up 3d printed items, Etsy Tshirts, and reports of Target employees setting up their own Pokémon related end-caps due to the lack of official merchandising. Life will find a way.
Throughout the evening we touch on many topics while circling around buildings and taking over gyms for the Blue Team (Mystics?). Once person to person trading happens will it become a virtual currency with all the downsides? Will we have gold farmers? Item theft? Realworld virtual muggings?
Given that these games depend on critical mass, how many of of them can exist at once? Network effects suggest only two strong games, with the occasional also ran in third place. But will Pokémon Go be a fad or sustainable? Will the leader spot swap constantly as is common in mobile gaming, or will it follow The World of Warcraft model with a dedicated fanbase that continues to play after a decade, always improving their characters. Will people even care about AR geolocation games in 6 months once the Christmas of VR hits? Perhaps all those kids will rush back inside to the screen-lit darkness after a brief summer of outdoor fun. Whatever happens, it will certainly be fun to watch.
The Geekification of Culture
So why now? Companies have tried to make location based gaming ‘happen’ for over a decade. Why now? Our best guess is that summer 2016 is the perfect storm of technology and culture. When Ingress launched fewer people had high end smartphones with large data plans. Battery life with constant GPS was poor. And certainly fewer kids had smart phones. Now that the smartphone wars have reached a stalemate pretty much everyone can have one; and every smartphone is good enough to run these games. (Why do we still call them smartphones anyway? They’re just phones now). The technology is clearly more accessible. There seems to be another factor though: the geekification of culture.
I see children talk about getting +5 improvements for their characters. When I was young this branded you as an outcast playing D&D in the basement. Now it’s a part of pop culture. The biggest movies are based on sci-fi and superheros. Kids are learning to program at a mass scale. Minecraft is used in educational programs. Cos-play is a thing that’s talked about positively. Hell, Disney is building a Star Wars Land! Somehow it happened: Geek is cool now.
In retrospect it should have been obvious: combined with the nostalgia of Pokémon, the tech pieces falling together, and the enduring popularity of collecting things; it really was the perfect vehicle to make location games happen. And I must admit the Pokémon are cute. I’m far more interested in collecting a charmander than power-ups for the crushing of candy. My kid is all about Hot Wheels and Hex-a-bugs right now, but I suspect Pokémon is not far behind.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some catching to do.（source：Gamasutra）