Pokemon Go character Pikachu

When Pokémon Go was launched in the US and most European countries in July 2016, no one knew what kind of amazing impact and new revenue stream for roaming this would bring. Pokémon is a rather nostalgic element in most Millennials’ childhoods, so the new generation of savvy mobile users jumped on the app and started wandering the streets of their city capturing all kinds of magical, animated creatures. But the true reality of the game was that Pokémon Go is an app for roaming and since Pokémon’s are everywhere, users needed to use it while they roamed too.

As any Pokémon “Goer” who travels knows, hunting down a few Pokémon when you travel can often lead to your expectations being met with disappointment – after what seems like a few hours of finally enjoying the hype of running around, discovering the city and socializing through the capture of fictional monsters, you realise that you just don’t have the budget for gaming in an augmented reality when roaming.

Pokémon Goers or even Snapchat users who now enjoy a daily refresh of “Augmented reality photography” are most likely cursing all roaming providers in existence and then continuing their vacations in silent suffering at the sight of throngs of generations bonding over this breakthrough augmented reality experience. Purchasing a foreign SIM card seems like an unnecessary expense and haggling with your roaming supplier at home is incredibly unappealing, so they simply give up to the dramatic thought that the trend will die before they could even experience it. And boy, were they right.

Of course, Pokémon Go was not the first AR game to hit the market. Ingress was the first one to be developed by Niantic with a very interesting, but sadly niche sci-fi story; needless to say, it did not blow up like Pokémon Go did. There are many other AR mobile games, but none had the perfect elixir of success that Pokémon Go had; it was a real viral, immediate and self-destructive success.

If roaming was a bit more affordable then maybe young Millennials would have enjoyed this viral trend while it lasted

But one thing stuck with us here at UROS… if roaming was a bit more affordable then maybe, maybe, young Millennials would have enjoyed this viral trend while it lasted. After two months Pokémon Go fell painfully into the shadows of oblivion, which must have hurt, from such heights. Was the ability for the user to spend their data allowance part of the issue?

RIP Pokémon Go but – and let us quote Aladdin here – “…a whole new world, a new fantastic point of view” was gifted to us. Augmented reality is a success and will be in the future with just a little bit more planning and forecasting, and companies are heavily interested in the marketing potential of it. In fact, a whole ecosystem is ready to exploit it.

Like this pizzeria in New York, it made a fortune on a single weekend after Sean Benedetti, Línizio’s manager, spent only $10 in Lure Models to attract all the Pokémon in the area and of course, the Pokémon Go players. Companies were on the way of setting up their own Poke Stops to boost their revenues with people stopping by every single day and converting them into regulars.

There is so much potential in AR gaming abroad – the months of July and August are when tourism around Europe is the most active, yet no “special” Pokémon Go roaming packages existed when the game was in its prime.

Many would’ve been absolutely willing to purchase special Pokémon Go roaming tariffs, just so they could enjoy the beach and Pokémon Go. Sure, the game did not last long, but the roaming traffic would have been immense while still keeping customers satisfied and away from bill shock.

Crowd of Pokemon Go players

Crowd of Pokemon Go players in the Netherlands. Copyright: iStockphoto/Lorado

Kohei Uchimura, a Japanese gymnast who ran up a roaming bill of $5,000 because of Pokémon Go, would have definitely used a nice roaming Pokémon Go deal, and we doubt he was the only one. In fact, news headlines like this may have helped kill off the enthusiasm for such apps.

Let’s hope that as the potential in AR games solidifies, the marketing in the mobile industry will also improve. International data plans might evolve into special gaming plans. I guess only time will tell. There's no doubt that it will be beneficial to everyone, if the charges remain fair without any surprising, "accidental" fluctuations or other additions to the final price. Until then, it would be wise to keep an eye on Pokémon Go's grave and other new AR gaming ventures to see what this summer brings.

On the back of the success of Snapchat Facebook is now entering into augmented reality. If you look at the potential for the MNOs market, this could be huge. While the world was expecting virtual reality, there’s no hotter trend right now than augmented reality. People won’t take holiday photos this summer but holiday videos in augmented reality.