Pokemon Go: A Look at Virality, Being Technologically Outdoors and Server load
Pokémon Go has been out for a full week now, and although it has seen its fair share of issues, it seems everyone has caught the Pokémon bug. Pokémon gained popularity in the 1990s originally as Game Boy games and quickly spread to videos, cards, toys, and books. It’s the second most successful video game franchise behind the Mario franchise, and for good reason. Pokémon uses the freemium model, providing a free download, with the option to buy coins and other sundries within the app for pay. With the release of Pokémon Go, cities everywhere are now dotted with head-down, phone-equipped, battery-draining Go players. Pokémon Go has even taken over the Pyxl office, prompting a dedicated #pokemon Slack channel, as well as regular hikes across the office from “the side with the two Pokéstops” to “the side with the Gym.” At least two groups even made an afternoon break run to “get coffee” or “take a walk” in the guise of collecting a few more pokéballs or catching those elusive Pokémon. Every direction you looked, you could spot a Pokémon Go player “technologically outside” in Downtown Knoxville today. Groups of 3-4 face-in-phone players wandered the streets and alleys, crossing traffic without notice. The Tennessee Department of Safety was quick to respond, urging players to “Wait to Go until you’ve STOPPED.” There have been numerous reports of players who have tripped, stumbled, and walked into objects while being glued to their phone. The dangers stretch farther than self-injury, however. Armed robbers used Pokémon Go as a way to lure in potential victims with the aptly named “lure module.” A lure brings in more Pokémon for players to catch, and when one is visible on a map, players tend to trend towards those locations, especially if they are in more remote areas where these lures aren’t as common. Police have warned players to make sure they aren’t going anywhere alone they wouldn’t normally go, and to make sure they have good situational awareness of what’s around them. While everyone seems to be loving the new augmented reality app, that isn’t to say it hasn’t seen its fair share of problems. It has been riddled with server issues since launch, still being experienced currently. Amazon’s CTO even reached out to the Pokémon Go developers via Twitter to offer help. With an application of this scale and size, it’s difficult to imagine being in the situation of scrambling to correct the server issues after the fact. At Pyxl, we always recommend being proactive with upcoming launches, making sure the application and server stack can scale higher than anticipated traffic. We also suggest doing slow or phased rollouts based on geography, membership or some other criteria that can control the amount of traffic coming into the app. If you have an idea for a viral application or web property that you think might could draw in hordes of addicts looking to catch just one more, Pyxl would love to chat about how to build and scale that to a reality.