Pokémon Go captures Orlando’s heart and makes a brutal summer a little sweeter

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Pokémon Go captures Orlando’s heart and makes a brutal summer a little sweeter

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click to enlarge Organized group outings immediately became popular in the wake of the game’s release.
Organized group outings immediately became popular in the wake of the game’s release.

Getting someplace dry, grabbing dinner: Those trifles can wait. It's summer 2016. These Pokémon aren't going to catch themselves.

Pokémon Go, Nintendo and Niantic's augmented reality mobile game, didn't "launch" on July 6. It dropped like a surprise Beyoncé album, like a gift from heaven or like gravity. Internet-analysis company SimilarWeb reported that, in two days, Pokémon Go surpassed Tinder in total Android phone downloads and matched Twitter's daily active user count. The promise of the popular "pocket monsters" appearing in the wild via users' smartphones to capture and train has turned the internet ­– and everyday life – upside down.

Go is the latest entry in Nintendo's portable handheld franchise, which first launched its seminal Red and Blue versions on the handheld Game Boy in 1998. Back then, kids dawdled the days away catching and training 150 creatures, then traded and battled with their friends through the use of a Game Boy-to-Game Boy cable. Over 20 years, the property has spawned 67 video games, 19 animated films, a trading card game, 19 animated television seasons and countless lunch periods debating the best starter Pokémon (it's Squirtle).

Pokémon already belonged in the pantheon of prestigious and profitable mega-franchises before Go happened. The Atlantic's Bourree Lam reports the property's all-time revenue exceeds $40 billion. Only the Star Wars franchise has earned more, with its 23-year head start. Then Pokémon Go increased Nintendo's net worth by $7.5 billion and became iTunes' most downloaded app in less than a week.

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