By Todd Humber
Are your workers taking more breaks than usual? Are staff members running by — smartphones in hand — talking about battling pocket monsters and throwing virtual balls at Pokemon? Are hordes of teenagers unexpectedly storming your workplace and circling your parking lot?
There’s an explanation for all this — Pokemon Go. It’s a phenomenon that has already led to the firing of one employee. More on that in a minute.
Most popular mobile game ever
Pokemon Go has become the most popular mobile game in the history of mobile gaming in the United States, according to new data from Survey Monkey. It reportedly has more smart phone users than Candy Crush — though neither Nintendo, Pokemon or Niantic Labs have released any official numbers.
“However, it’s clear that Pokemon Go has been a huge hit ever since its release last week. Google Play data shows that the game has been downloaded between 10 and 50 million times on Android alone,” wrote Janko Roettgers for Variety.com via Reuters. “Similarweb estimates that the game is now installed on 10.8 per cent of all U.S. Android phones. In New Zealand, that number is 15 per cent.”
The game isn’t even officially available in Canada yet — but despite that, creative users have found ways to download the game and 6.3 per cent of devices reportedly have it installed.
A boon for business?
An Associated Press article pointed out that some firms are using Pokemon Go to drum up business. A café owner in Atlanta spent $40 to add digital lures to two “Pokestops” that were near his business. It increases the chance that rare Pokemon — with names like “Starmie” and “Poliwag” — show up nearby, drawing more people to the area and thereby boosting sales.
Other firms have used lures to brand their stores as “charging stations” for drained phones — because the game is apparently a battery hog.
And the market responds
Think it’s not a true phenomenon? Check out this number — Nintendo’s stock jumped 25 per cent on Monday and an additional 13 per cent on Tuesday. In real dollars, that means the value of Nintendo has jumped $8 billion this week.
About that employee who was fired
Sonny Truyen, an Australian expat working in Singapore, went on very family unfriendly rant on Facebook over the lack of Pokemons in his adopted homeland.
“You can’t (expletive) catch Pokemon in this piece of (expletive) (expletive) country,” he posted.
When a local called him out for disparaging Singapore, Truyen upped the ante by saying the country sucked “cos its full of stupid people like you.”
People found out where he worked — he’s the vice-president of digital marketing for 99.co, a local property site — and began leaving disparaging comments on the company website.
Darius Cheung, the CEO of the company, issued an apology. He pointed out Truyen had been with the company for about a week and that his engagement with the firm had been terminated.
“We are a proud Singaporean company and we do not condone such language or behaviour,” he wrote.
Truyen admitted it was a “dick move” on his part to disparage the country.
Brace yourself, HR
Pokemon Go is only going to continue exploding in popularity. Similar location-based games will undoubtedly follow suit, which means break time for employees could become a lot more interesting.
The one upside in all this is that, instead of being glued to video games and computers, people are walking, running and cycling around neighbourhoods hunting down these virtual beings. So chalk up a small victory for wellness.
- with files from Reuters and the Associated Press