How Will Pokemon GO Change Singapore?

Pokemon GO opened its servers to 26 European countries last weekend, and with Japan’s official launch on the horizon, it seems Singapore’s turn is almost here.

The augmented reality game of exploring the real world to catch Pokemon rocketed to stardom in mere weeks, and already has more downloads than Tinder, more daily active users than Twitter and more usage than even the iOS Facebook app.

Singaporean fans have coped with their anticipation by downloading an unofficial version that uses the US map, which means catching Pokemon in their fridge, but who can blame them? A Pokemon-filled Singapore makes jalan-jalan feel like going on safari.

As we look forward to the launch of Pokemon’s “Singapore region”, it’s worthwhile to scan the news and see what Poke-trends Singapore can expect once the game goes online.

In the US, Pokestops (places where players can collect potions and pokeballs) have become infamous for appearing in the most unlikely places, drawing players to strip clubs and churches alike. Similarly when Singapore’s landmarks turn into Pokestops, expect to see crowds of trainers milling around unexpected areas like: heritage trails, hospitals, and even (gasp!) schools. Expect to see nightclubs invaded by Pikachu fans, libraries visited for Pokeballs and our ailing malls for health potions.

Watch Out! Trainers On the Move.

Poke-mania has also hit the roads in other countries, with appalling results. A young player was hit by a car, and a gaming driver smashed his vehicle into a tree. Touch wood, but we can expect some traffic accidents once the game goes local. (What if there are Diglets on the PIE?) Buses and MRTs should also see more crowds as scores of Pokemon hunters begin “searching far and wide”.

Luckily for players who want to “catch them all”, urban areas like Singapore are home to more Pokemon, gyms and Pokestops. There should be items aplenty and gyms to fight, so look forward to some intense Pokemon GO gaming. This is also an unexpected boon for struggling attractions like Orchard Road or the Singapore Flyer. Pokemon lures can be used to attract Pokemon to their physical location, and bring in customers. Overseas businesses have raked in profits as a result – for one pizza restaurant, a US$10 investment led to 75% more business.

Add that to Singapore’s kiasu culture and you can bet “luring players” will become the next big sales practice. A flourishing of lure hotspots in turn could drive the gaming scene forward even further, helping local players compete to “be the very best”. With three none-too-chummy player factions to choose from, local gyms to attack and defend (for Prestige!), and 151 Pokemon to catch and train, the AR game has suddenly made the real world a lot more exciting.

Most surprisingly, Pokemon GO has brought out a lot of public silliness (more than even the planking craze). A man was bitten by a poisonous snake, two people fell off a cliff, teens were mistaken for burglars at night and shot at, and a conspiracy theory says that the US and Japan may use the game to locate China’s secret military bases. What international headlines will we get for our Pokemon silliness? (Trainers Walk into Middle of National Day Parade, or Pokefan Stranded on Top of Merlion

A vast fictional universe, beloved for two decades, has finally been unleashed on the world. So many cute critters, so little time.

Are you ready Singapore?