Academy blog

Gotta Catch ‘Em All!!

Pokemon GO is the defining phenomenon of Summer 2016. It has positively taken over, bridging together like never before the worlds of physical and digital social interaction in a unique and counter-intuitive way, but many still wonder…what is it?

The Wall Street Journal was able to summarize the game in non-player terms, so in short: Pokemon, known as “Pocket Monsters” in Japan is a fictional franchise which surrounds capturing and training Pokemon monsters for battle. Since 1996, this has been the premise of the Pokemon video games, card games, graphic novels (known in Japan as manga) and animated television programming.

Unlike their traditional games, developed for parent company Nintendo’s line of consoles, Pokemon Go is the first time an extension of the franchise was released for smart phones. The defining feature contributing to the game’s allure is its utilization of augmented reality (AR) technology. However, as Lee Naik mentions on LinkedIn, the AR of the game is not the same as more sophisticated technologies truer to the AR definition. However, the game does bring the technology to the forefront of public consciousness, and is important for “truer” AR endeavors going forward.

So, using its form of AR technology, players with the app open on their phone will encounter certain monsters to catch, based on their location, which appears before their very eyes, inserted into familiar locations. The result, city streets packed with Pokemon-trainers-to-be out, as the brand maintains, to “catch ‘em all”.

The sudden influx of people wandering the streets more preoccupied with their phone than the world around them (which must be true culture shock to those parts of the world outside New York City) may have raised eyebrows on its own, but has also disappointed players in terms of QoE.

Gradually, the game has been rolled out around the world, and with that came servers ill-equipped to handle the volume of players using the app. Server reliability is so undependable, the British edition of reports websites that exist to report the status of the game servers.

Although the current version appears to be the MVP for release, with additional features still to be added and bugs to be patched, it is regrettable that users (such as this author) experience downed servers so regularly. The lack of server reliability really detracts from the quality of experience (QoE) one expects from the game, and considering the enormous publicity it is bringing to developer Niantic Labs, Nintendo, and her subsidiary The Pokemon Company,one would hope for more. As Karol Severin writes on LinkedIn, “Fans remain forgiving for now but won’t remain patient forever.”

NPAW may specialize in video delivery, but any content streamed online is subject to the same QoE expectations. The surest way to meet these demands is through the use of a data analytics system to monitor how end users receive and enjoy the game. AR and VR and going to play a role in the future, and as they become more refined and widespread, support them with a strong analytics platform so end users aren’t left behind.

Just another thing to think about from us here at NPAW.  


James Noeker on July 27th 2016

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