The Pokemon Go user experience at BYU has improved following a rocky launch and multiple updates in the year since the app’s launch, according to students and faculty at BYU.
Pokemon Go, developed by Niantic, was initially conceived as an augmented reality-fueled experience drawing from the popular Pokemon franchise. The app launched July 6, 2016 and was immediately plagued by server issues, bugs and real-world logistics issues.
Pokemon Go has proven to be explosively popular, despite its problems. The app has been downloaded over 750 million times and hosts 65 million monthly active users. The app has generated $950 million in revenue in its first year of release, according to developer Niantic and Venture Beat.
The app is also the fastest-earning game in smartphone history, according to market research group App Annie.
The release of several features like additional Pokemon to catch, updated gym battles and Legendary Raids have improved the game, according to BYU recreation management professor Ramon Zabriskie.
“(The game) is more closely aligned now to what Pokemon fans have loved about the original games for years,” said BYU Broadcasting employee Ryan Clark. “Battling, raiding and being able to change your Pokemon’s movesets are all things that have been improved since the game launched.”
Zabriskie said the experience facilitated by Pokemon Go has been positively affected by post-launch updates and moderated play.
“Those that utilize the game in a positive way and in balance with other aspects of life have benefitted and continue to benefit greatly,” Zabriskie said.
Pokemon Go has also provided families the opportunity to get outside, explore, and bond, according to Zabriskie, whose area of expertise focuses on family recreation.
“(Niantic has) made it much more social, which has brought back a lot more people,” Zabriskie said. “Now you see groups of dozens of people (playing together), including little kids, families, and the aging and elderly. They play every day.”
Zabriskie said Pokemon Go can also double as physical therapy.
“I’ve watched it be used all over the country to improve quality of life and function for people with disabilities,” Zabriskie said.
BYU mechanical engineering student Garrett Hawkins said he uses Pokemon Go for stress relief.
“Work is tough, class is tough, and it’s nice to have something to get my mind off school and work,” Hawkins said.
Clark and Hawkins both said they often play with strangers, rather than an established group of friends.
Looking forward to Pokemon Go’s future, Clark said he would like to see direct interaction between players implemented by Niantic.
“I like the idea of meeting someone on the street and being able to battle with them, as a throwback to the Pokemon games of old,” Clark said.
For more information regarding upcoming Pokemon Go’s updates and events, visit pokemongo.com.