The year is 1999. Ash Ketchum and Pikachu are battling it out against the nefarious Team Rocket and their Meowth.
Actually no, that was yesterday and you are Ash Ketchum playing Pokémon Go, stumbling through High Park looking for a Pokémon gym because you gotta catch ‘em all.
Yes, Pokémon is back and in full (quite shocking) force. In just over a week, it has managed to crash the Internet (not to mention make people crash into things and each other), bring back the 90s and actually get people up and moving outside.
Also, John Mayer immediately bought $100 in Pokécoins so obviously we need to talk about this.
This is what captured our minutes this week.
1. Pokémon Go has been a hugely successful brand reboot.
No, Pokémon never died. There are still new episodes and the current TV series is still going strong as Pokémon: XY. But has it been the top toy or game to buy at Christmas time? Has it been the number one watched animé series ever?
Not exactly. In fact, its heyday in most people’s memories is the late 90s and early 2000s.
Yet, here, today, now in 2016 Pokémon is literally overtaking people’s lives. A man in New Zealand actually quit his job to play Pokémon Go full-time. People have rescued countless animals by accident while playing. People have had to be rescued themselves after getting trapped in areas they can't get out of (like caves, we're not kidding). Players have also been seriously injured.
This is no joke. Businesses are even benefitting. Animal shelters are enlisting the help of Pokémon Go players to walk dogs while catching Pokémon. Some Canadian museums are encouraging the use (though please be respectful and considerate of the environment) of the game. Local Toronto restaurant Waffle U is offering a discount to Pokémon Go players.
Oh and Nintendo’s stock? Yeah, it had its highest closing since June 22, 2010 after launching Pokémon Go.
2. It’s given even more accessibility to augmented reality.
Though many people are fairly aware of augmented reality and actually have certain aspects of it on their smartphones already (Snapchat’s filters), it’s still not something that everyone thinks of as their go-to platform.
As a freelance tech writer pointed out to the CBC, Pokémon is “widely recognizable brand and franchise” that can easily show off the capabilities of using augmented reality.
This will likely inspire several knock-offs, as more and more game companies jump off of the success that Pokémon Go has had with augmented reality and take a cue as to how game interfaces can change to be more interactive.
Players are so enticed here because they're being given a truly unique gaming experience. It's immersive in that they get to live within the game's made-up world, but it still exists in real time and real-life environments. It's essentially the augmented reality of going outside. Few other games have yet to offer the best of both worlds like this.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that augmented reality, though similar, is far less expensive than virtual reality.
While we’d all love to run around wearing crazy space-looking headsets for VR, the truth is it’s a little beyond our reach.
3. It took over and even surpassed social media.
In fact, despite several instances of civil unrest and political turmoil in the world, SimilarWeb says Twitter chatter for the game surpassed that of Brexit and the Euro 2016 football championships. These 15.3 million tweets worldwide happened in the span of just seven days.
Players are also using the app for roughly 43 minutes daily, more than the usual favourites Whatsapp, Instagram or Snapchat.
The game even has more users than the Twitter app itself.
Consequently, there have been some great UGC spread throughout social on this.
So overall, Pokémon Go's fast virality and unique gamer experience have won this week's Battle for Time.
At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.
What will win this week?
*Update: We previously reported that Nintendo's stock had soared after the release of the Pokemon Go app. It did, but has since promptly plummeted after investors realized that Nintendo doesn't actually directly make the game.