Of the many unexpected developments to hit the world of video games in 2016, the most surprising of all may be the cultural phenomenon of Pokémon GO. Despite mixed reviews from some sources and many features still pending, the augmented reality mobile spinoff of the classic Nintendo franchise exploded as an instant global sensation and remains one of the most popular games of the year months later. In fact, media coverage by both mainstream and gaming press has handily eclipsed that afforded to most triple-A console games and even major announcements like Microsoft's Scorpio or Nintendo's own still-mysterious NX platform.
The game has proven so popular that new reports indicate rival developer Sony has notice -- and now the company is looking for a mobile phenomenon of their own.
As reported by The Financial Times (subscription required), Sony CEO Kazuo "Kaz" Hirai has openly praised the success of the mobile hit, while also indicating that his company is putting an increased focused on their own mobile gaming initiatives in an effort to replicate the unprecedented success of Pokémon GO. Hirai said:
"[Mobile gaming] is something we are aggressively getting into. It’s quite a shift from being just a console-based business to being on mobile phones as well."
While Sony has been one of the top players in console gaming since the launch of the original PlayStation in the 1990s along with being one of the biggest names in global electronics, the company has (like many other traditional gaming mainstays) struggled to gain a foothold in the new and evolving mobile market. The company's previously released "PlayStation Mobile" software (which worked alternately on PlayStation Vita and Android devices) was met with a resounding lack of interest before being quietly abandoned in late 2015. Since then focus has shifted to a dedicated mobile developer, ForwardWorks, which is aimed at creating mobile compliments to game franchises associated with the PlayStation brand.
ForwardWorks remains Sony's main inroad to the mobile market under the new initiative, but now with an additional concerted push for games to make use of Augmented Reality Game (or "ARG") mechanics in hopes of mimicking the popularity of Pokémon GO; which integrated GPS and smartphone camera technology to bring traditional Pokémon gameplay (and the "Pocket Monsters" themselves) into the real world. Exactly what that would entail is anyone's guess, up to and including which (if any) of the "exclusive" Playstation gaming brands Sony might believe could be made similar to Pokémon GO.
Screen Rant will bring you more news of this and other developments regarding Pokémon GO as they develop.