"Pokemon Go" is an iOS and Android juggernaut, but the app based on this beloved Nintendo franchise can sustain its popularity for only so long. Here are five reasons why "Pokemon Go" will ultimately be a short-term fad.
1) Too Hot Not To Cool Down: "Pokemon Go" flew relatively under the radar even during its closed beta tests, but as soon as the game went public, the Internet exploded. This small download quickly became one of the web's most-discussed topics, and was honored as the biggest app of all time after just a few days. It's already making millions, and Nintendo share prices have risen about 30 percent. That degree of instantaneous growth is unprecedented and it's likely the trend can only go down from here. Even the slightest drop in activity over the next few months could easily create the perception that the concept is losing traction. Once that doubt takes hold, audiences may become less interested. In other words, "Pokemon Go" could wind up being of a victim of its own record-setting launch.
2) The Speed Of The Mobile Market: One of the hallmark features of the mobile marketplace is just how quickly it moves. Download sizes are small, ideas are quick and easy and thousands of new apps are gaining favorable search listings every day. Both on Android and iOS, the competition is crowded with plenty of seasoned creators. Mobile fads have come and gone over the last few years. Remember "Draw Something," "Words With Friends," "Angry Birds" and "Temple Run?" Sure, all of those games probably still have dedicated players, but nobody is talking about them anymore. Prominent developers like Zynga and even Rovio have lost lots of money after major successes. The same seems very possible here.
3) The Effort To Find New Pokemon: The idea of traveling to parks, cities and landmarks to catch monsters is novel now, but is it something that people are going to want to keep doing for months on end? Young adult players have especially busy lives with work and family. This game is just one more thing to add to that list that requires physical effort — and will be the first time-sink to get cut when days get hectic. When the nostalgic crowd moves on, "Pokemon Go's" popularity will measurably suffer. There are also geographic limitations. Practically everyone is playing it now, but certain parts of the world aren't very ripe with Pokemon. Players who live far from cities aren't having as much fun with this app already, and that chilling effect will only continue without some changes to spawn points. In short, the physical effort will get tiring.
4) Unavoidable Battery Drain: The viral passion for "Pokemon Go" is matched only by disdain for its battery drain and bugs. Niantic will sort out most of its glitches but some shortcomings are logistically unavoidable. This is especially true of battery issues. Location-based games drain a lot of juice by the nature of how they're designed. They leverage a device's GPS and notification features constantly to function. Improvements can be made, but those basic facts won't change. If phones are dying fast, it's obvious what the biggest culprit — and first deletion — will be. Once it's off a device, it's not likely to be reinstalled.
5) Future Generations Aren't Iconic: Nintendo, Niantic and The Pokemon Company made the smart decision to launch their Android and iOS app with the iconic first generation of Pokemon. After all, it's the best way to attract both lapsed and new fans at the same time. Everybody knows the original 150, and that familiarity is a major part of the fun. But the hundreds of monsters that will eventually be rotated in don't have the same kind of cachet. That might get players interested in some of the Pokemon that they missed, but it might also alienate them as the roster expands. Gamers are notoriously creatures of habit, so new character bonds are hard to form.
And here's a bonus point:
A Small Game With Big Implications: Whether “Pokemon Go” is able to maintain its buzz or not, it’s a high-profile experiment for Nintendo and the rest of the mobile industry. For Nintendo, this breakout success could be a message to start bringing other first-party franchises to less familiar platforms. This app could be the first sign of a Nintendo that’s eventually focused on making content for phones or current competitive consoles from Sony and Microsoft.
For other developers, the question is how quickly “Pokemon Go’s” biggest hooks get adopted and replicated. Could another developer make a game with even more addictive tendencies, or is the “Pokemon” license itself the glue that holds this zeitgeist game together?
"Pokemon Go" is available now as a free download on Android and iOS.
Do you think the "Pokemon Go" craze will last? Tell us in the comments section!