You’ve heard about it on TV. You’ve heard about it from your kids, your friends, your kids’ friends, even your coworkers. No one can stop talking about the world’s latest craze.
The app premiered a week ago to an overwhelmingly positive response. According to the game’s players, many of them are even getting more exercise. Several attest that it took the motivation of collecting and battling Pokemon to get them to go outside and exercise. And many players credit the game for getting them to explore parts of their hometown that they’ve never noticed before.
The game requires players to walk around with the app open on their phones until a Pokemon appears on their screen at a designated real-life location. Players then collect that Pokemon, and can use it to battle other players later.
Hot spots for catching and battling Pokemon in Macomb County include Partridge Creek, Lakeside Mall, Stony Creek Metropark, Anton Art Center and the Macomb County Administration Building. Sources claim downtown Mount Clemens has seen 200 to 300 players strolling the streets as late as 3 a.m. every night this week to catch rare Pokemon.
It’s not just individual gamers who are reaping the benefits of this new fad. Nintendo, the game’s creator, has grown by $7.5 billion in the past week, even though the app is free. This is partly because their stock sales have skyrocketed. Another reason for their profit is that businesses can purchase “lure mods,” digital stops that attract lots and lots of Pokemon, in order to draw more Pokemon-playing customers to their location. In Macomb County, this has become a real trend among businesses wishing to increase their revenue from foot traffic, including Gus’ Coney Island and ABC Magic Shop in Mount Clemens.
At the end of its first week, the game shows no signs of slowing. Early estimates predict nearly 8 million downloads of the game in the United States alone. There is an event planned later this month for people to come and catch Pokemon at the Detroit Zoo; more than 16,000 people have responded that they are interested in attending.
The game is only in its beta testing mode now, so no one can say whether the game will fade or continue to grow in the upcoming weeks. Whether you’re a super fan of the game – like the 27-year-old Mount Clemens man who wished to be referred to as “the Pokemon Master” – a businessperson looking to increase your customer base or just a spectator enjoying the show, have fun with this new trend while it lasts.
Jenna Russell is a summer intern at the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. She is a junior at Oakland University.