Pokemon GO has only been around for roughly six years, but there's no doubt that it changed the way mobile game lovers think about Augmented Reality. While there had certainly been AR games before its release, the response to Niantic's mobile game had never been seen before.
After months of development, Ingress creators at Niantic partnered with The Pokemon Company to release a title like no other in the mobile gaming space.
When Pokemon GO was initially released, Niantic's servers were overwhelmed with new players diving in to capture and train Pokemon. The login issue was eventually fixed, but the early server congestion speaks to the immense amount of hype the game initially created.
Though Pokemon GO's popularity has subsided since its 2016 debut, the game's arrival still significantly changed the mobile landscape.
Pokemon GO used AR in its gameplay almost in totality
Before Pokemon GO, AR games were widely considered something of a gimmick. While they can be fun, they tend to bore their player base quickly once the appeal of Augmented Reality wears off. However, Niantic's approach to the Pokemon series was incredibly forward-thinking, using AR in its gameplay almost in totality.
When the title was released, countless fans of Pokemon and mobile gaming took to the streets together to capture AR-generated Pocket Monsters.
Players flew the banner of Teams Mystic, Valor, and Instinct and took over notable real-world locations that had been formed into gyms. This allowed players to not only participate in the AR title as players, but the world itself was reforged and interactive.
Obviously, Pokemon GO has been through a substantial evolution since its initial release, though it hasn't captured the same massive response it had at first. This isn't to say the game isn't successful, as it has made a considerable amount of revenue over its six-year tenure.
One of the most lasting impacts of Pokemon GO has been seen in games that have been released in its wake. Since its 2016 debut, mobile developers worldwide have developed games attempting to capture the same feeling of the Pokemon title.
Games such as Minecraft Earth, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and The Witcher: Monster Slayer have had varied success. Minecraft Earth and Wizards Unite have since been discontinued.
All the while, Pokemon GO has remained steadfast, retaining a core playerbase and pulling in millions in income.
Granted, recent updates and changes have caused some trainers to criticize Niantic's direction. However, the majority of players are still well-engaged with the product in its current state. Niantic has even managed to use its success to create additional AR titles based on Nintendo properties, such as Pikmin Bloom.
The Pokemon series being brought to mobile devices everywhere was truly lightning in a bottle for the time period. Nintendo had been reluctant to step into the mobile arena for quite some time, but GO became just as impactful for them as it was for fans around the world.
Augmented Reality games have soared in recent years. However, it would be naive to think that Niantic's landmark title didn't have a huge influence on the AR gaming industry as a whole.