ON JULY 10th police in O’Fallon, a Missouri town of about 80,000 people, made a statement about the modus operandi of an armed gang that had been using “Pokémon Go”, a video game, to prey on the locals.
“Pokémon Go”, an app for smartphones published by Nintendo, a Japanese video-gaming firm, has proved a smash hit since its release on July 6th in America, Australia and New Zealand.
“Pokémon Go” applies that formula to the real world. Smartphones direct players to various locations, either to find Pokémon or useful virtual items, or to deploy their charges in battle. As well as the muggings in Missouri, a player in Wyoming found a dead body in a river while looking for Pokémon. Much like Pokémon, pundits are now engaged in a virtual battle over what the game’s success means.
How much money will Nintendo make with “Pokémon Go”? Although the app itself is free, players buy virtual items to strengthen their Pokémon.