by Graham Pierrepoint
Yes – believe it or not – there is still a fervent following for 2016’s colossal augmented reality game, Pokemon GO, which enables smartphone users to catch colourful critters in their own back yards. It’s a game which escalated to popularity over the summer of 2016, and despite it having faded from the mania it once experienced, still possesses a number of regular fans who are ensuring that the platform survives. The game’s developer, Niantic, was responsible for bringing it to the world – though complaints regarding their delay in introducing battles and trading saw the popularity of the format start to dwindle.
Those still avidly playing Pokemon GO in the US will be alarmed to hear that the game may go inactive for up to three weeks, and that this may be happening very soon indeed. The government is set to shut down the game’s GPS setting for a brief period so that the US Air Force can carry out Red Flag – a series of games where pilots will be required to take on challenges including GPS jamming without the assistance of geolocation technology. This means that many states across the US won’t be able to catch any Pokemon from around now and until mid to late February – meaning that certain catchers stateside won’t be able to take part in any events or claim any gyms until the exercises are complete. Suffice to say, the Air Force hasn’t been explicit on which areas will be affected – though US players can expect a lack of service for a few weeks at the very least – so think yourself lucky if you can still catch the odd critter stateside throughout February!
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The movement to shutdown US GPS is completely legal – and while the event will mean that avid Pokemon GO fans are left without service for some time, it is being done in the interest of the US Air Force – meaning that any complaints regarding the temporary shutdown will, unfortunately, be unlikely to stand up. The game is still widely enjoyed across the world, with many additional generation creatures and the chance to grab rare Pokemon having been rolled out – though some of the elements missed by players back in 2016 are still yet to be fully realized. Regardless, it is a game which set the benchmark for augmented reality early on – and, as such, it will still be fondly played even now.