Pokémon Go has been a huge hit for Nintendo. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. It’s been an amazing success, so much so, that Nintendo has had problems keeping the servers up.
Despite the success (or because of it) there is a dark cloud to Pokémon Go’s silver lining. Criminals have been using the game’s lure feature to sucker in unsuspecting gamers. There are more details in the linked article but, in a nutshell, Pokémon Go allows users to buy Pokémon lures which bring in more Pokémon to the player’s location. Other players can see the lures, too, so you can get a group of players hanging out around the lure to see what shows up. Gotta catch ‘em all, after all.
Nintendo had a great idea with the lure feature. Get a bunch of gamers together to enjoy the game together. A big part of the Pokémon games is running into other trainers and having Pokémon battles. Heck, it’s all my kids talk about some days.
It’s not surprising a bunch of enterprising, young thugs got the bright idea to lure people with shiny, new smart phones into dark places. Criminals have been doing this online for years with trojans and such. Of course, it’s had a long a storied history off line, as well.
The thing is, the lure feature really is a great idea. It’s part of what really separates Pokémon Go from Ingress and other geo caching games. It’s actual social gaming. I won’t be surprised if other games come out that trying to build off of what Pokémon has done. Unfortunately, as long as lure-like features exist, criminals will try to use it to rob people.
It’s bad enough when thugs rob adults but there are a lot of children playing Pokémon Go. It’s really easy to not pay attention and end up in a bad part of town or, like those players in Missouri, get held up by a bunch of thugs.
As I said, the social stuff is part of Pokémon Go’s appeal and it’s not going away. Gamers need to be aware of what’s going on around them. (Don’t drive and play. What’s wrong with you people?) Parents, talk to your kids and supervise them if they want to go out on their Pokémon journey and be aware yourself. Have fun but stay safe.
Updated [2016-07-12 Tue 17:37]: I talked more about this in my stream this morning including some ideas to minimize bad actors.