The Pokémon Go craze is sweeping across the globe with millions of players making their way out into the real world to use the augmented reality smartphone game to try and capture the little digital monsters. Of course, it didn't take too long for the instant blockbuster to make its way into the 2016 US presidential campaign.
Looking to tap into the country's increasingly voracious hunger for the popular mobile game and attract millennial voters, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign team have announced plans to hold an official event at a Pokémon Go gym and a PokéStop in Lakewood, Ohio on Saturday, 16 July where players can "get free pokemon, and battle each other while you register voters and learn more about Sec. Hillary Clinton!!!"
Clinton also mentioned the GPS-powered game during a speech to prospective voters in Annandale, Virginia, saying, "I don't know who created Pokémon Go, but I'm trying to figure out how to get them to have 'Pokemon Go to the Polls.'"
Presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump, however, was quick to hit back at his opponent with his own Poké-themed ad on Facebook featuring an edited version of the app titled "Crooked Hillary No." The ad shows his rival as a Pokémon character named "Crooked Hillary" with a Combat Power of 1 who is "often found lying to the American people, rigging the system and sharing top secret emails." The character description also lists her type as a "Career Politician" and her next evolution as "Unemployed."
The Michigan Republican Party has also tapped into the game as well, calling on players to go door-to-door to contact voters and attract volunteers whilst getting "the chance to explore more neighborhoods and continue to build your Pokédex."
In the addictive game, different local landmarks — such as libraries, restaurants, or train stations — are listed as "gyms" that allow players to take on other users' Pokémon for control of the spot. Interestingly enough, the White House and Trump Tower are listed as gyms in the game, drawing tons of players hoping to claim the coveted hubs.
However, Trump did tell the Washington Examiner that he wished he had the time to play the game too. When asked if he had played the game so far, he said, "I don't, but people are playing it. No question about it."
According to Survey Monkey, Pokémon Go has soared to the top of the charts as the biggest mobile game in US history, garnering just under 26 million US users on Android and iOS and surging past Candy Crush Saga's rumoured peak smartphone audience of 20 million.
The game also sports a pretty high retention rate as well with about seven out of 10 people who download the app returning to it the next day as well. The average rate is usually three out of 10 returning users, the report said.
Despite only being out for a little over a week, Pokémon Go has already surpassed popular apps WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat in terms of daily user engagement and has more Daily Active Users than Twitter.