Pokemon GO is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most successful mobile games released to date. According to Wedbush Securities analyst, Michael Pachter, the game is likely heading towards recording yearly earnings of anywhere between $200 million and $500 million, pushing the title in the top 20 grossing mobile games of all time. However, in light of this success, it appears that other large game developers are in no rush to copy Niantic’s successful formula, mainly because they think there’s little chance of winning against the Pokemon GO phenomenon.
Pokemon GO is a rather unique game largely thanks to its augmented reality (AR) nature, which invites players to go outside in search for Pokemon and points of interest. It’s a fairly simple concept on paper, but Pokemon GO has become a reality partly thanks to its spiritual predecessor “Ingress”. Ingress was Niantic’s first augmented reality game to utilize Google Maps as its playfield, and thus, on the most part, Pokemon Go’s infrastructure was already set into place before the game was even released. This gave (and gives) Niantic the upper hand in terms of creating augmented reality games based on real world maps, and according to numerous developers from major studios cited by Reuters, big-time mobile game creators are not looking forward to competing with Pokemon GO in its particular niche by creating their own Pokemon GO clones. N3twork Inc chief executive and former group GM at Electronic Arts, Neil Young, said that “Today is not the right moment to release an augmented reality experience. That moment is sort of reserved, I think, for Pokemon Go”. Rovio Entertainment executive vice president Wilhelm Taht said that “It’s not easy to get people off of their couches” and that “there have been a lot of tries in this area before” without much success. However, Niantic managed to somehow pull this off, and some executives who don’t have any plans to copy Pokemon GO are of the opinion that the game’s success was a fad and was attributed largely to the Pokemon brand rather than the game itself, pointing towards the lacking social features such as trading, player chatting and so on. This statement can also be backed up by the fact that Pokemon GO is miles more popular than Ingress: an augmented reality game with an arguably stronger AR aspect, and richer player interactions partly thanks to the existence of in-game chat channels.
Other developers seem to be of the opinion that, because Pokemon GO still lacks certain features, rival companies could use this to their advantage and create alternative titles with richer social aspects. “The game needs to be more social… where you can have group goals and possibly chat when you hunt for a Pokemon” according to MySpace creator and SGN Games Inc. CEO, Chris DeWolfe. At the end of the day, however, it appears that despite Pokemon GO’s shortcomings and success, not many studios are willing to compete with Niantic, and instead, they are more inclined to wait and see how the game and the augmented reality gaming scene will continue to develop or even change the market in the foreseeable future.