Fun is fun, and Pokemon Go has already delivered its own brand of augmented reality to millions on its way to becoming a bonafide cultural phenomenon. But when that fun begins to interfere with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, it’s clearly time to make a change.
The creators of Pokemon say they will soon allow locations to opt out of being PokeStops and gyms -places in the game in which players gather items such as potions and eggs and do battle with each other. These stops are usually located at noteworthy sites, but the game shipped without any consideration for the appropriateness of these locations. As a result, places like the Arlington National Cemetery and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, both located in Washington, D.C., have become unwilling participants.
In an interview with the Associated Press, the game’s creators expressed remorse about the situation and vowed to correct it. They say some sensitive locations have already been removed from the game and it is working on supplying an online form that will allow others to opt out.
“When something is really popular, we have to figure out the most respectful way to deal with it and make sure that everyone is playing safely and doing things in a respectful manor,” says J.C. Smith, consumer marketing director for The Pokemon Company. “It’s only been two weeks since it launched, and there’s been so much attention and so many people playing that it’s tough to think of all the ways it could affect the world.”
While the location of some gyms and PokeStops are no laughing matter, others have provided some comic relief. In Coquitlam, B.C. a gym was located at a Hells Angels Vancouver chapter clubhouse on Brunette Avenue, leading a Hells Angels spokesperson to comment that the situation was “inappropriate.”
Although it was released with limited availability, Pokemon Go smashed the record for most downloads of a mobile game within its first month. The game hit 50-million downloads in the 19 days following its release, easily surpassing smash hits such as Candy Crush Jelly Saga and Color Switch.
Pokemon Go has sent shares of Japanese gaming giant Nintendo, which owns 32 per cent of The Pokémon Company on a wild ride since its release. Shares of Nintendo doubled between July 7 and 19, adding more than $20-billion in value. But shares fell back to earth after the company issued a statement that it did not expect to make very much money from the game.
But some say Nintendo is being too conservative and doesn’t really know what it has on its hands in the space.
“The phenomenon is that up until now, and even in their guidance, [Nintendo] doesn’t really understand the full impact of how big mobile is and how profitable it can be for the company,” fund manager Seth Fischer told CNBC last week.