Days after its release, Pokemon Go has become a fast-moving phenomenon, drawing flash mob-type crowds searching neighborhoods, parks and urban streets for imaginary characters on their smartphones.
The game, which trades on the nostalgia of the popular 1990s franchise and the thrill of exploring an augmented reality, is poised to surpass Twitter in daily active users on Android, according to data published by SimilarWeb, an information technology firm. And on the Google Play store, it’s ranked No. 1 above Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
Users play the game by wandering neighborhoods and other public places, trying to discover geo-located Pokemon characters, which show up as if in the real world on their smartphone cameras.
Players sometimes congregate at local landmarks to join teams and compete with one another.
But already the game has posed risks and warnings that users could be drawn into danger.
Armed robbers in Missouri used the app to lure victims to isolated locations where they could be robbed, said police. Others have been injured chasing the imaginary characters on their smartphones, without paying attention to their real-life surroundings.
In Washington state, Duvall police posted a warning on Facebook after players had been found “creeping around the Duvall PD … in the dark, popping out of bushes.”
“Just use common sense,” the post said, suggesting users “make sure your presence is well known. … And remember to be polite.”