Since Nintendo and Niantic released it late last week, the mobile app “Pokemon Go” has taken the Internet by storm. It’s gone far beyond the nostalgic 20-somethings who remember fondly the days of bringing their GameBoys onto the playground, and if you haven’t downloaded it yourself, chances are you’ve seen people who have. Yet Pokemon Go’s impact can be felt beyond your Facebook news feed and that guy sitting next to you on the metro trying to catch a Pikachu. For one, Nintendo shares are soaring in value. But there’s also a darker side to the success of Pokemon Go.
Since it requires players to travel to real-world destinations, known as “PokeStops”, to stock up on various Pokemon supplies, some people have been capitalizing on the game’s mechanics to trap and rob players. In the town of O’Fallon, Missouri, four people were arrested over the weekend after using a Lure Module to draw unsuspecting players and then rob them at gunpoint. This requires some explanation: Lure Modules work as ways to bait more Pokemon into showing up to any PokeStop for 30 minutes, and are indicated by a glowing pink color on the map so they’re easier for other players nearby to notice. Various cities across the US have reported Pokemon Go-related thefts since it launched.
But the wrong end of a gun isn’t the only thing players have found while looking to catch ‘em all. In Wyoming, one women found a corpse while traveling to a Pokestop. While jumping a fence to capture a nearby Pokemon, she instead found the body of a drowned man. While the game encourages players to walk off the beaten path to catch wild Pokemon, in cities where walking is inhibited, people have figured that it’s easy to idle past nearby PokeStops, which is already leading to car accidents.
Not even a week old, Pokemon Go is still in its early stages, with continuous updates promised down the line to enhance the player experience. Niantic has yet to divulge when the first updates will start to hit, since the app hasn’t even been launched worldwide. While it isn’t the first smartphone game Nintendo has released, it does seem to hint at a more popular staying power than Miitomo, which launched earlier this year (Haven’t heard of that one before? Exactly). Next up, the company plans to debut apps related to such franchises as Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing.
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