Why will Go succeed where so many others failed? Let’s look beyond the fact that the Pokémon franchise is one of the biggest in the world of video games, contributing to a large portion of Nintendo’s financial success over the last 20 years. The technology company behind Go, Niantic Labs, actually used to belong to Google, where it developed a game that tracked the coordinates of people across the world, allowing them to play simply by moving their location. In other words, Go actually represents years and years of development by a group of talented people who know what they’re doing.
Go also represents a very natural extension of Pokémon’s core game play. For the most part, all you really do in Pokémon is walk around looking for more Pokémon! The jump from a virtual to a real map might be a technical challenge that requires servers, high-speed data plans, camera technologies, and a whole lot of your smartphone’s battery, but it is the easiest of mental leaps. It’s why a recent Pokémon-based Google Maps April Fool’s joke went viral. Pokémon already had the map. Go is just projecting that fantasy world onto the real one.