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How Did Pokémon GO Change the World?

In the summer of 2016, Pokémon GO premiered and swept the world, capturing tens millions of players and earning its parent company, Niantic, $950 million in revenue. While its user base has shrunk since then, the game is still wildly popular and a financial success for Niantic. This astounding phenomenon happened because of Pokémon GO’s merging of an established and popular brand, interactive gameplay and excellent use of augmented reality and location-based gaming. If you’ve been playing Pokémon GO since it came out, you’ve likely seen much of its impact for yourself. There is little doubt that Pokémon GO has changed the gaming world. Here’s a look at how.

Augmenting Reality

Although Niantic’s first AR game Ingress really built the foundation for augmented reality games, the technology didn’t really take off or become popular among users right away. Pokémon GO really put this technology on the map when it became a worldwide phenomenon. With the framework Ingress put in place with location-based gaming, Pokémon GO was really able to hit it off with users and make it go viral. All of a sudden, not only were people able to use this technology to interact with the real world—they were able to insert themselves into a nostalgic fantasy of catching Pokémon like they had always wanted to as kids. Other games have since followed suit and capitalized on users’ nostalgic desires, including Niantic’s own Harry Potter augmented reality game, Wizards Unite.


Statistics show data suggesting Pokémon GO was responsible for accidents. This occurred because players became distracted by their phones and would accidentally trespass, walk into traffic, trip and fall or, in at least one case, get mugged. There was a long-term lesson here for players of augmented reality games. They soon understood that they had to be careful. Developers, too, realized that they had an obligation to do what they could to warn players to use caution when playing. Niantic has since added warnings to Pokémon GO and reduced the amount of collectibles available during bad weather events.

Physical Activity and Gaming

One of the biggest long-term impacts of Pokémon GO was that it incorporated physical presence into the game. Indeed, Pokémon GO was impossible to truly play unless you got up and went to various collection points, PokéStops and Pokémon Gyms. As such, it encouraged players to get off the couch and move, play with their friends and go into public spaces. The internet is replete with stories of players who credited this game with getting them outdoors, and many businesses in various locales have attributed their increasing foot traffic to Pokémon GO.

Pokémon GO was a very different game from anything that many people had seen before. In that sense, it absolutely changed the gaming world, and it will likely set the stage for many other augmented reality, location-based games.

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