Over the past few months you wouldn’t have failed to notice the new gaming craze that swept over not just the nation but across the whole world. Whether you saw it on the news or noticed the hundreds of people roaming the streets with their eyes glued to their phones, you will know that Pokemon Go was the latest game to grab the attention of the masses.

It’s an augmented reality game and was the first of its kind to take off extraordinarily. Lucky Nugget writers look at whether this is a sign that gaming is changing or is it just a freak craze?

Advancements of mobile gaming

Firstly, we have to acknowledge how gaming has developed significantly over the recent years. Long gone are the days where you would only sit at your console to play. After a busy day at work, gamers would relish the opportunity to sit down with their feet up at home to have their fun. Not now, you can game on your way to work, during your lunch hour and in fact, wherever you want!

The rise in mobile gaming has seen to that. Whether you want to play some of the fantastic table games on offer at Lucky Nugget Casino or keep yourself entertained on Candy Crush, all you have to do is pull out your phone and then you are ready to play.

The portability of the new way we game and how easy it is means that companies are focusing on the mobile industry. In fact, 2016 saw the first year  that mobile gaming revenues were higher than their PC counterparts, coming in at just under $37bn worldwide! Incredible.

Clearly, gamers love the fact that they are able to play on the move, in the palm of their hands and have such easy access and it’s easy to see why.

Plus, it’s hard to see that figure ever dwindling. With the quality of graphics, sounds and gameplay getting better year in, year out, the mobile gaming industry is inevitably set to see more improvements.

However, despite the recent rise in mobile gaming, nobody anticipated the meteoric rise of Pokemon Go.  From avid gamers, to your grandmother, people swarmed the streets in the masses on the hunt for Pikachu.  And without even knowing it, millions had seamlessly bought into augmented reality (AR), the industry’s next big thing.

What is Augmented Reality?

Well, the strict definition of AR is a ‘live view of the real world environment that includes elements of augmented, computer-generated aspects such as graphics or sounds among other things.’ By incorporating AR, and ultimately spearheading a new way of gaming, Pokemon Go was the first of its kind to really hit the mainstream gamers.

What is Pokemon Go?

For those of you that didn’t know, Pokemon was a really popular game back in the 90s, on Nintendo. It had garnered a huge fan base and a lot of readers will recall the good old days of playing with Ash Ketchum, Squirtle and, of course, Pikachu.

However, that didn’t prepare us for what was going to happen, and a lot of the gamers who were playing Pokemon Go wouldn’t have seen or maybe even heard of the original game back in the day.

Pokemon Go, much like the original Pokemon franchise, involved catching as many Pokemon in the hope that one day, just maybe, you would stumble upon a Mew, or a Mewtwo. Pokemon would be stronger and faster than others, and utilise different skills and powers, and so players would be delighted if they stumble upon the rarest.

The Pokemon in the AR version live in the real world, from monuments, to landmarks and even regular streets such as your own. It is up to the players to head out and ‘catch them all’, while also trading with other players, hatching eggs for bonuses (related to the amount of distance you have walked) and competing in poke battles.

It is now safe to say that the public were instantly hooked to Pokemon Go. It was fun to play, it was AR, it was a popular brand before, and it was something new. In fairness, Ingress is another AR game that attracted around seven million players worldwide, and laid the groundwork for Pokemon Go, but the levels of publicity were unprecedented. The power of the brand behind Pokemon Go drove millions to this very popular franchise.

It takes over the world!

At its peak in mid-July, reports estimated that there were an astonishing 21.5m daily players! Amazing.

Pokemon Go was the most tweeted about subject in the world, with 15.3m tweets using the dedicated hashtag #PokemonGo. This was four million tweets more than the high-profile Brexit debate involving the UK and over double the level of tweets that were generated about Euro 2016, a major football tournament.

This demonstrated the way gaming has changed too, with the popularity and publicity spread via social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. These are platforms that gamers would use and it was an easy way for them to interact and talk about the game and how good it was, and the message would spread in absolutely no time.

Played all over the world, it was and still is the most popular game in many countries, including the USA, Canada and France.

There’s another new way to game too

Virtual Reality (VR) may not have hit the same heights as AR because of Pokemon Go, but it further demonstrates the change in the way we game, along with the steady growth of the industry over the last few years.

VR is an artificial, computer-generated simulation that places  you in a different environment or situation altogether, all from the comfort of your home. The visual and auditory sensations the player experiences make it feel as though they’re physically present in the game, while being able to interact with the environment through the notches on the helmet adds to their virtual immersion. Not true glove and headset VR invented by the movies though, but close enough.

Experiencing VR all depends on how powerful your phone is. You can get  smaller VR headsets which allow play on mobile, but these are not as popular as their console counterparts. However, it does show some similarities to AR in the sense that once again we are appealed by the chance to interact and experience something new.

More reasons for optimism include the technology involved. The games, headsets, hardware and involved are only going to get better, which inevitably results in better graphics. That scope for development means that VR will represent the future.

This is another market that is continuing to grow. Deloitte Global predicts that 2016 will be VR’s ‘first billion-dollar year’ and while VR doesn’t compare to other forms of gaming, it’s a strong base and shows real signs of improvement.

What does the future hold?

Lucky Nugget Casino is predicting bigger and better things for the gaming industry, mainly due to the technological advancements of existing components. Firstly, from a traditional point of view, gaming on the console will never die out, there are too many reasons why it won’t. Ultimately, it is the high profile games that have built up top-class reputations over the years that keep console gaming going strong.

Will Football fans ever stop buying FIFA to play on their console? We don’t think so. The chance to play as your favourite team, with the new kits, players and features will always appeal. As well as that, you can play against your friends, or online against fellow players from across the world. FIFA will always have a market in the gaming industry.

Of course, there are a host of other games, like FIFA, that have built up a relentless fan base over the years. Call of Duty, Gears of War, Destiny and Forza to name a few. However, what we are seeing now are different options available to gamers; titles that are open and accessible to players, regardless of skill and experience.

Nobody could have predicted the Pokemon Go craze as it literally swept across the planet, showing the impact gaming can have. AR presented gamers with an entirely new challenge, something that they wouldn’t be accustomed to before and that’s its true appeal.

It also demonstrated further that mobile gaming is the future. As technology increases, people want things instantly, and we get that through our gaming. To play on the move, at work, from the bus, this will become an expectancy for gamers.

Portability is another key factor set to improve in the future and will see more games become mobile friendly. As we covered earlier, mobile gaming has brought in more revenue than PC gaming for the first time ever, and we predict that the gap will continue to rise.

The rise in AR and VR gaming just prove that players want variation. They involve a lot more interaction and put you in situations that are new to a lot of gamers and that is another positive aspect.

The technology in these markets will advance and the games will become better, so the future for both of those gaming types is very positive. In ten years it will be impossible to predict how many games we’ll be able to play – although it’s hard to imagine a more popular one than Pokemon Go!

So, there you have it, the way we game is changing and nothing could signify that more than the worldwide hit Pokemon Go. It showed the many potential ways for us to play in the future, and was the clearest indication of how central our mobiles could be for gaming. It managed to hit the mainstream and was a real landmark moment for mobile gaming. Consoles and traditional methods will never lose the players that they deservedly attract, but VR and AR will try and maintain a strong foothold in the market for sure. All this competition and high quality products, with the latest technology means one thing – the gamers are the winner! So, enjoy it and play the games that you want.

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