• Pokemon Go Fans

Pokemon Go Fans (Photo : Getty )

Pokémon Go  has quickly become a big hit in the United States and Europe, passing 15 million total downloads last week, and becoming the biggest mobile game in US history by topping Candy Crush in daily active users.  The GPS/augmented reality (AR) game has become such a pop culture wonder that its servers keep crashing, while social media includes a plethora of Pokemon Go memes and web pages for Team Instinct, Team Mystic, and Team Valor. While Nintendo and The Pokémon Company came up with the game concept in 2014, the Niantic game's Pokemon franchise launched 20 years ago.        

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The history of Pokémon started in 1996 when Nintendo released two Game Boy games in February 1996 known in Japan as "Pocket Monsters Red" and "Pocket Monsters Green." Players tried to catch 150 of the small creatures and train them to fight the Elite Four to become regional champions.

Pokémon fever caused the franchise to expand into comics, cartoons, and trading cards. The video games' mascot Pikachu stayed popular around the world and Nintendo continued the game series.    

Meanwhile, Google subsidiary Niantic was built from the mapping company Keyhole. Niantic's first big product was a location-based social game "Ingress" that required players to battle for control of points at real-world landmarks. They could also boost their power through small landmarks.

Niantic became a separate company in August 2015. It then teamed up with The Pokémon Company and Nintendo to start developing Pokémon Go.

The mobile app has become a megahit even though it includes no game mechanics such as how to catch Pokémon and fight in a Pokémon gym, according to The Guardian. That has made Pokémon Go a more social game as players learn basics, tips, and tricks from other players.

AR is another key to the game's success. For example, when gamers meet a Pokémon it shows up on a live image from the phone camera.

It is unknown how long Pokémon Go fever will last. It could become the next Tetris, FarmVille, or Clash of Clans with a long-term fanbase.

In related news, Niantic CEO John Hanke recently shared he wants to launch the hit mobile game in about 200 countries and regions, according to Reuters. The company is beefing up server capacity for the worldwide rollout.

Hanke's report helped Nintendo stock prices to spike 10 percent on July 15, Friday. The Japanese electronics/software company's shares have jumped 86 percent in about one week.

Here's how Pokemon Go is boosting local businesses: