Time to get off the couch, put on your sneakers, and prepare for an experience that has revolutionized the gaming experience…

Pokémon Go has taken over the United States, Europe and will continue to spread to Asia within the next few days according to recent reports. In less than a week from its launch, iOS users would now rather spend their time “catching ‘em all” than using Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram. In fact, in just the beginning stages of its inception, Pokémon Go has eclipsed all other popular gaming apps including Angry Bird, Clash of Clans, and Candy Crush by a long shot. TechCrunch reports Pokémon Go numbers have blasted any previous app phenomenon out of the water.

Image Source: techcrunch.com

It’s not just huge, it’s the biggest game in U.S. mobile history.

Why the sudden craze? Pokémon Go is a childhood dream come true with Pokémon itself appearing in the streets near you, PokéStops down the block, and gyms in the neighborhood… Over 21 million people are currently addicted to chasing these creatures down, and the number just keeps growing. To gain a better understanding of the massive growing following, let’s dive into the past.

Pokemon Go
Image Source: pokemon.com

The Track Record

Originally known as Pocket Monsters in Japan, Pokémon’s introduction to the United States began in 1996 with Pokémon Red and Blue that were games created for the Game Boy by Nintendo. After their success, a series of other games followed including Pokémon Yellow, Pokémon Stadium, Pokémon Gold and Silver, Ruby, Sapphire, etc. In 2007 there was Diamond and Pearl, in 2012 Pokémon Conquest and as of 2015 the franchise sold more than 279 million video game software units.

It didn’t stop there; a frenzy of PokéBattles erupted in schoolyards everywhere when the trading card game was released in 2003. Back then, catching ‘em all meant collecting every card. Binders were brimming with Fire and Lightning types, fans bought specialized sleeves to keep their favorite rare cards in mint condition. They have since shipped more than 21.5 billion cards to 74 countries in 10 languages. Even now, tournaments are held where Pokémon Masters of the TCG can display their skills.

But let’s not forget about the ongoing (17 seasons strong) TV series, which follows Ash Ketchum’s journey to being the best that no one ever was. The show first aired in 1998 on Cartoon Network and has progressed to numerous spin-offs, 19 full length featured films, and various shorts featuring the beloved Pikachu. Not to mention all the merchandise, the company makes 1.5 billion in annual revenue that is sure to shoot up after this year.

So what’s in store for Pokémon Go and the Pokémon franchise?

Businesses are trying to get a slice of Pokémon Go’s success. Ads in the form of sponsored locations will be integrated as “portals” on the virtual map mimicking Niantic’s other game, Ingress. It’s a perfect way to attract customers. Different facilities will act as hosts to Pokémon and trainers will walk right to their front doors with hopes of expanding their collection.

Image source: pokemon.com

People are flooding the streets as everyone from casual users to serious gamers step outside for the first experience of outdoor activity incorporated into the gaming lifestyle. A monumental shift in direction from the at-home-experience to a fully mobilized application encouraging users to explore new territory, Pokémon Go is the revolutionary gaming “sport” of this generation. If you have yet to see the app, surely you’ve seen its fans roaming local hot spots in search for these virtual creatures in the digital parallel universe, which (thanks to Pokémon) is now a part of everyone’s backyard.

Incorporating the popularity of mobile gaming, virtual reality and social engagement, local business should be getting excited about capitalizing on becoming a stop along the way of the Pokémon Go journey.

Image source: pokemon.com

Some skeptics say the craze will die out within a couple months but people are already buzzing with news about upgrades. Battling with friends and a trading feature with enhanced PokéStops will surely keep players interested. There are 729 existing Pokémon but only the original 151 are currently available to catch. With how popular the app is, imagine what will happen when new Pokémon are up for grabs… it’s exciting.