Why Pokémon Go scares the shit out of me.
As an intro, I want to mention that I have an Ant problem in my house currently and it completely relates to my current feelings about Pokémon Go.
A couple of days ago I downloaded Pokémon Go on the Google App store and have been playing it around the neighborhood with my kids. It seems exciting that AR (Augmented Reality) applications are going mainstream. I see huge potential benefits in regards to entertainment value, getting people outside walking around and building a community of players. I think these benefits are great.
On the App Developer side, I see huge opportunities for in-app revenue through item purchases. It seems like a win-win all around, except I've gotten this sketchy feeling recently after my Ant problem at home developed. Obviously there have been a lot of issues raised about wandering Pokémon hunters landing on private property to "Catch them all", but this is not what is currently sketching me out.
The issue is fundamentally this: It's making people behave like insects, particularly Ants
I fully realized this last night as I went to Disneyland and saw 1 out of every 6 people I came across on their phone playing Pokémon Go. Literally, they weren't even looking around, just glued to the phone for long periods. Almost being controlled by it, being navigated to various points such as Pokémon Stops, Pokémon Gyms and trying to catch them all.
Now, take a number of steps up the ladder to look down on the type of Ant Farm behavior I'm concerned about. Ants are driven by very simple algorithms which correlate to behaviors associated around seeking food, shelter and protecting the colony. Scent trails, lures, hunger for food and water drive ant activity. Ants are also typically running along paths identifying bounderies and laying down scent trails for other ants to increase the efficiency of delivering food and resources to the hive.
I also understand there's nothing new about driving people towards a destination using incentives. What worries me however is the concept of lures in Pokémon and that I can create incentives in my area by dropping lures. This in turn draws Pokémon which draws players. I recently read an article on Forbes about a pizza shop that was able to increase foot traffic exponentially based on dropping lures. I thought to myself, "This is a great idea!".
However, the model scares the shit out of me when you apply AR to Ads by driving traffic in an indirect way to monetize at a location. It allows you to create swarms and manipulate these swarms in a way that's not neccessarily able to be identified by the individual that's part of this swarm. It also sets up a new ad model where physical location becomes Ad Inventory whose price is indexed by the swarm that can be drawn to that location through AR games and Machine Learning. This is why Pokémon Go scares the shit out of me.
[Citation Ant Algorithms]https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant_colony_optimization_algorithms
[Citation Forbes Article on Monetization through Pokémon Lures]http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2016/07/11/pokemon-go-is-more-than-just-a-game-its-a-phenomenon-thats-bringing-people-together/#72b3e7dd4743#PokémonGo #PokemonGo #Niantic #Google #AR #AugmentedReality #Monetization #Mobile