Pokémon Go Ups Social Discovery with Party Play

Social discovery, and friend-finding is an emerging market. But it could be argued that one of the biggest platforms to successfully use technology to build new communities, foster friendships, and get people together, arrived in stealth with Pokémon Go in 2016. Ostensibly, a new form of the Pokémon game series that tried to capture the essence of the franchise, searching the world for new creatures to catch and add to your collection using AI, became a platform that sparked thousands of events, and thousands of local meet ups and communities. Its latest feature, Party Play hopes to boost the social discovery aspect of the app. 

The app had a huge zeitgeist moment in 2016, with millions of players across the globe, and a large resurgence in the pandemic years, where it provided a good reason for people to get out of their houses. It still has users in the millions, creator of the game John Hanke told the BBC recently, even if parent company Niantic has had a large number of lay-offs in recent years and cancelled a number of other augmented reality projects for other franchises like Harry potter and Marvel.

Party Play, the new feature from Niantic makes the co-op experience more rewarding – allowing you to actively join games with three other players. People were already regularly playing together in real life – going on the same walks and exploring to find pokemon – but now that is reflected in the actual game experience. Creator John Hawke told the BBC the game is still going very strong in terms of users and said:

“Seeing it be something that brings people together is heart-warming, particularly in a world where we need more things that bring us together.”

And he believes AR technology will allow us to develop more tools that bring us together. He believes

“Phones are good because it’s the technology we have today, but it’s still not perfect, because it’s kind of distracting. I’m most excited about those that don’t cut you off from other people.” 

Wearables and headsets that are more integrated and don’t force your head down into a screen could potentially provide very different experiences. Potentially in the world of social discovery too. 

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