5 things I don’t get about Pokemon Go
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Geektime playing Pokemon Go. Photo credit: Gedalyah Reback / Geektime

Geektime playing Pokemon Go. Photo credit: Gedalyah Reback / Geektime

It’s not just you

Tech in Asia

Nintendo. No entiendo. I don’t understand Pokemon Go.

Pikachu has leveled up and Raichu has started a serious storm around the world. But there are still some things I just don’t get about Pokemon Go.

1. What is the exact relationship between Niantic and Nintendo?

Nintendo added billions to its market value in a number of days. Image credit: Google

Nintendo added billions to its market value in a number of days. Image credit: Google

The game was created by Niantic and uses a lot of the scaffolding it made for its other GPS-based indie hit, Ingress. The Nintendo logo isn’t even on the official Pokemon Go website. The Japanese company is barely listed in a footnote for trademark.

Yet, Nintendo’s stock is soaring like Moltres, nearly doubling to US$37 billion in a week. What is the structure of the two companies’ relationship? Nintendo invested in Niantic last October along with Google and The Pokemon Company. Even if there is some major revenue share going on, the numbers don’t add up.

Let’s pretend there are four sushi restaurants in Japan. Capcom Sushi, Konami Sushi, Sega Sushi, and Nintendo Sushi. I want to start a chain in California, so I plan to buy a restaurant and bring it over. To make the best choice I look at revenue to help figure out how much money each shop could potentially make me in the US.

I am willing to pay up to two-and-a-half times the revenue of each store for Capcom, Konami, and Sega. But Nintendo is different. Its new conveyor belt system built by Niantic looks promising. Although sales have not changed for five years I am convinced this technology is a thing and offer ten times the amount the restaurant made last year to buy it. The sushi world thinks I am crazy because everyone knows money for sushi sold through the belt goes to Niantic and a few other companies first before coming to me.

But people in Japan are crazy for Nintendo. There is an old investor saying directly translated as, “Even if it’s rotten, Nintendo.” Meaning even if it’s not in it’s glory days, Nintendo is a wise choice. Careful though, seafood doesn’t keep well.

Nintendo still hasn’t returned to pre-Lehman Shock levels. Image credit: Google

Nintendo still hasn’t returned to pre-Lehman Shock levels. Image credit: Google

2. Why can’t stores block access?

While it looks like you can report a Pokestop on your personal property, there is still no way to report a Pokemon gym – as this poor soul found out. Some businesses are not happy with new, often non-paying, crowds.

Pokemon can appear anywhere. Droves of people outside your house can make you feel weird and uncomfortable. This will most certain start a new debate over who owns the virtual property around your home.

3. Why hasn’t it been featured on the app store?

Pokemon Go is a growth hacker’s dream. With very little spent on advertising, it’s become a major phenomenon – and without being featured on either the Google Play or iOS app store. That’s odd since both Google and Apple would have a lot of money to gain based on more users.

Perhaps Niantic requested to not be featured because of the overwhelming traffic already. A feature in the top spot of the app store can potentially lead to millions of more downloads.

4. Why did they change the names?

Image credit: James Chapman

Image credit: James Chapman

Many of the Pokemon’s names have been changed for localization, which I understand. But why change the main character Satoshi, named after the franchise creator Satoshi Tajiri, to Ash? Many non-Japanese people have not met a Satoshi before, but who has met an Ash? Is it really Ashton Ketchum?

5. Why hasn’t it launched in its home country?

The game is still not out in Japan and it is driving people crazy. Don’t you think Pokemon should launch in its birthplace first? Is Niantic afraid of what might happen in a dense population? New York seems to be fine. Are the servers really that crowded? (Editor’s note: It just launched in 26 more countries, and not a single one of them are Asian.)

Tech in Asia has reached out to Niantic regarding its relationship with Nintendo and reasons for not being able to block access to the game on private property.

See more on Pokemon Go

Is Pokémon Go still compromising your phone’s privacy?

Beyond nostalgia, this is the main factor behind Pokémon Go’s success

This is how Pokémon Go might win the advertising game

The top game in China right now is a Pokemon Go clone

Editing by Steven Millward, Michael Tegos, and Terence Lee

This post was originally published on Tech in Asia

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Peter Rothenberg

About Peter Rothenberg


Peter is the Japan correspondent at Tech in Asia. Before his time at Tech in Asia he ran an EdTech company in Tokyo. He is a fan of the Japanese ecosystem, sports, all types music, and learning.

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