VIRTUAL REALITY: Bringing together thousands of people with Augmented Reality

Let's keep it light-hearted. Here are things we did not know about Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game. It has seen over 800 million downloads, and generated over $1.2 billion in revenue since inception. Niantic, the firm that makes the game, has raised $200 million to build a Harry Potter version of the same. And the game has just run through a partnership with several cities including Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and San Jose, California. See the link below in the Sources for more detail -- we found the study fascinating.

Niantic and the cities created joint events that drove people outdoors and on adventures through physical communities by sprinkling scarce digital objects along the way. Like Pacman eating dots or bunnies following a trail of nibbles, people were guided along a video game narrative to participate in battles and events. In San Jose, 35,000 people showed up and spent $450k; in Philly, 10,000 had a more bespoke experience along historic landmarks. In some cases, players could modify the game in progress. What is also notable is that the most effective way to get community engagement was not to send invites to individual players, but to networks, which then self-organized and came together. It's a version of migrating a web-based forum or community to the physical world. 

So what, you say? Ok: (1) 22 million virtual and augmented reality headsets will be sold this year -- still a far cry from Whatsapp adoption, but laying the groundwork for mass adoption nonetheless, (2) software platforms like Metaverse let any person or SME program their own AR apps, which can be epxerienced on the major mobile platforms, (3) blockchain companies have laid down the groundwork for scarce digital goods owned and maintained by a community, (4) bank retail branches and physical shopping are both facing pressure from the migration online. Massively multiplayer augmented reality games could be used to bootstrap crypto economies, financial services engagement, or new types of commerce. Or at least, to watch the World Cup on your tabletop.

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Source: Venture Beat (PokemonGo revenueHarry Potter), Mobile AR (City ReportMetaverse), Prosthetic Knowledge (Soccer), Crypto projects (DecantralandBubbled*), Tech Radar (AR market); *disclosure -- Lex is advising Bubbled.