Last Wednesday saw the release of the newest addition to the Pokémon family of games: Pokémon GO, developed by Niantic, Inc. (formerly, Niantic Labs). Niantic, Inc. was previously known for doing the popular mobile game Ingress. They partnered with Nintendo and The Pokemon Company to apply that GPS/map-based play to the popular Nintendo franchise. Although Dan and I will have more to say about this in this week’s podcast, it was worth taking a moment to address all of the news (both good and bad) that has been popping up over this new title.
Stories about Pokémon GO and the outcome of so many people playing have been circulating around various social media and news websites. In Wyoming, a nineteen year old woman found a dead body while pursuing an elusive pokémon. A police station in Australia has warned players against entering the station in order to collect pokéballs or to catch pokémon that spawn there. A police department in Missouri recently reported that a group of teens have been luring people to a pokéstop in order to commit robbery. But, with all that gloom and doom, there are some brighter notes. A large number of Pokémon GO players have been discovering that they are inadvertently exercising by playing the game.
Of course, not everything has been about people wandering around with smartphones pressed up against their face. Several news sources have discovered that Pokémon GO grants itself liberal access to the user’s Google account. By logging into the application using your Google account, you grant it full access to your Google content (including Gmail, Google Drive, and other Google applications). As of last night, developer Niantic, Inc. has issued an announcement that this security issue was unintentional, promising to correct the error as soon as possible. Other websites have commented on the upcoming Pokémon GO Plus peripheral, a watch-like device that interfaces with the user’s smartphone. Currently, eBay is awash with people selling the device at five to ten times the listed MSRP of $34.99.
As could be expected with something this popular, Pokémon GO has had a few awkward moments. Notorious Amazon Kindle “author” Chuck Tingle recently released Pokebutt Go: Pounded by ‘Em All, another title in his (her?) series of erotic (?) fiction. Several websites have been documenting peculiar places that have been designated Pokéstops, including a Los Angeles bathhouse, a Seattle bathhouse with a “mirrored gloryhole maze,” and other odd and inappropriate places. Most of the peculiarities in location data come from the fact that the Pokéstops appear to be primarily based on location data taken from Niantic’s previous title, Ingress; the “Portal” locations of Ingress were user/player submitted. This explains how so many child-inappropriate Pokéstops came to be in the first days of the game.
All in all, Pokémon GO has been making quite a lot of news since its release.