4 secrets behind the success of “Pokémon Go”

People are walking around with intent expressions on their faces, talking to one another about Pokémon as if it were the year 1996 again. But why?

Matthew Hartl, 35, of Norfolk, says that nostalgia may be a large factor in people’s decision to play “Pokémon Go”.

The first Pokémon games — Pokémon Red, Green, Blue and Yellow — were widely distributed and played. Combined, they sold 32.5 million copies worldwide. The number of daily active “Pokémon Go” users hit 26 million on July 15.

Developed by Niantic and The Pokémon Co., “Pokémon Go” became the largest mobile game in United States history on July 13. Despite the fact that Nintendo has minority stake in terms of the app’s ownership, the company experienced a 25 percent share increase. This is the largest single day share increase since 1983. As of July 13, Nintendo’s share increased by a total of 53 percent.

Aside from nostalgia, Hartl said he also enjoys the immersiveness of “Pokémon Go.”

Through the app, those who played the original games in the past 20 years are able to come back and capture 145 of the 151 Pokémon that were featured there. In the app, Pokémon are captured through the phone’s camera and the user’s physical location. The app uses these things to detect nearby Pokémon. If a Pokémon is near, a small sprite will appear on screen. Users click on that sprite to proceed to a battle against the Pokémon, and have the option to battle in augmented reality, making the Pokémon appear in the same environment as the user. A Poké ball, a red and white ball, will appear at the bottom of the screen. Users touch the ball, aim and swipe up with a finger to aim it toward the Pokémon to catch it.

Tommy Wells, 44, of Norfolk, said the game “gets people moving.”

“It’s like treasure hunting,” Wells said. He said he enjoys spending time with his family as they play.

Hartl’s and Wells’ experiences with the game have made them notice positive social changes within their communities that both fuel and build off of the game’s growing popularity.

Wells said the game has made people “more outgoing,” and he has noticed people “interacting and talking with each other.”

“At Pokéstops, you end up talking to people and finding other common interests,” Hartl said.