The Pokemon company are celebrating their 20th year anniversary in numerous exciting ways. A short series of videos titled “Pokemon Generations” has started airing on the official YouTube channel to commemorate where the series began, and a pair of games are set to come out in November to keep it going. The favorite of celebratory projects was none other than Pokemon Go, the reality-augmenting mobile phone game. It gained traction all over the world and peaked when around 45 million players logged in daily, and has since suffered a decline of over ten million players. With the release of the Pokemon Go Plus accessory, we could see the numbers climb all over again.
The idea of bringing the beasts from our childhood into the real world started as an April Fool’s joke. In 2014 the titan known as Google advertised a new feature added to Google Maps that showed Pokemon appearing all over the world. The mechanics were simple: tap the first blob of colors you see and it’s caught. After the first of the month, a branch company of google took the idea to heart. Niantic Inc. already had experience with augmented reality after their breakthrough app Ingress. Using their older game as a base, they replaced the electric particles you collected with Nidorans and Bellsprouts.
The week of July 6th brought thousands of people out of their houses and into the world of a Pokemon trainer. People flooded popular monuments like statues, libraries and parks. Everyone was throwing pokeballs and having the time of their lives. But towards the end of July there were less people at Blossom Heath. The city sidewalks were less crowded. People lost interest and the initial appeal wore off. Groups of friends weren’t going out to play the game, but individuals played whenever they were out. This was mainly caused by the broken tracking system and lack of game mechanics. Even with Nintendo gaining almost $200M in revenue, the figures are set to drop if the decline continues.
To counteract this trend, Nintendo developed the Pokemon Go Plus accessory. The device is, at its core, a single button that connects via bluetooth to your phone. Whenever you come within contact range of a Pokestop or Pokemon, you have the option to press the button and interact with them. The device also tracks distance traveled more accurately than the app and works when the phone is locked.
At the time of writing this article, it is very hard to get your own Pokemon Go Plus accessory. Nintendo sold out of pre-orders and every gaming and toy store in michigan is waiting for new units.