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Pokémon Go documentary maker says game will be around for 10 years

Pokémon Go will be an evolving game – and part of the augmented reality marketing scene – for the next five to 10 years, a Niantic major investor has claimed in response to critics. Some naysayers had labelled the app a short-lived gimmick, which failed to introduce new features or monetise effectively.

Pokémon GO

Speaking to Mumbrella at the Asia TV Forum and Market in Singapore today, Fuji Television Network director – and producer of the soon-to-be-released documentary How Pokémon Go changed the World – Taka Hayakawa insisted the six-month old product would possibly have a decade-long shelf life.

“We will continue for the next five to 10 years rather than just stopping after six months,” he said. “And right now we are just focused on improving the user experience. In terms of the business model it is a little different, we want to maximise enjoyment first and then make money later. It will take a long time to complete the project, but the game is getting better and better.”

Niantic had claimed that the game was downloaded an incredible 600 million times and compelled users to walk 4.6 billion kilometres in search of the animated creatures. However, when asked by this publication how many people had since deleted the app and how many monthly active users there were Hayakawa could not – or would not – reveal the data. “I don’t know the number of active users and even if I did I couldn’t tell you,” he said.

Hayakawa did reveal however that the documentary, allowing cameras inside the Niantic office in San Francisco for the first time, would be released in Japan and the United States this month and in 60 European countries in January. He was also seeking to find other distributors across Asia at the conference this week.

 

Legend has it that Pokémon Go started as an April Fools Day joke among Niantic developers in 2013 before turning into a serious project. “It pushed innovation to the edge as you know longer had to ask for permission or have lots of money to create something like this – thanks to the diminishing cost of digital collaboration,” said the Fuji TV director.

“Niantic wanted people to find things around them, they wanted people to go outside and explore; to work with others and to encourage people to engage with each other and their environment.”

On the content of the documentary, Hayakawa said: “What amazed us was that the world was actually changing with this game.” He pointed to “a socially withdrawn boy who suffered a communication disorder going outside and making friends, a senior citizen living in a nursing home smiling again and tourists returning to the earthquake disaster area in Northeast Japan” as examples of the game’s societal goods.

Fuji TV has been one of the leading broadcasters in the Japanese media landscape since the late 1950s.

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