Researchers document Pokemon Go’s vehicular casualties, Niantic raises $200M for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

Who lives, who

Pokemon Go developer Niantic just got enough money to build a second pool in which to put all that money to roll around in. Venture capitalists have poured another $200M into the company through a Series B funding campaign following the reveal of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, its upcoming wizarding world MMOARG. As Android Central points out, Niantic raised just $30M in 2015 following its Pokemon Go announcement, so this is a hefty increase that demonstrates continuing confidence in the power of Harry Potter, MMOARPGs, or both.

Meanwhile, researchers from Purdue University have produced a paper documenting the real cost of Pokemon Go in property damage and human life in a single county in Indiana, which won’t surprise anyone who recalls the parade of articles about crashes and deaths and vandalization last year when POGO first released.

“Based on detailed police accident reports for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, and using the introduction of the virtual reality game Pokémon GO as a natural experiment, we document a disproportionate increase in vehicular crashes and associated vehicular damage, personal injuries, and fatalities in the vicinity of locations, called PokéStops, where users can play the game while driving,” the authors explain in their abstract. “The results are robust to using points of play, called Gyms, that cannot be used to play the game while driving as a placebo. We estimate the total incremental county-wide cost of users playing Pokémon GO while driving, including the value of the two incremental human lives lost, to be in the range of $5.2 million to $25.5 million over only the 148 days following the introduction of the game. Extrapolation of these estimates to nation-wide levels yields a total ranging from $2 to $7.3 billion for the same period.”

Makes that $200M in Series B funding seem a bit paltry, eh?

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Robert Mann

No company is responsible for the misuse of their product, or the bad behavior of others, unless they actually encourage it. P-Go, for all that I’m no fan, didn’t cause those damages. People who failed to think, care, or clean up after themselves caused those damages.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

I’m reluctant to lay this at the feet of a game company in terms of loss of human life. A modicum of logic tells us that playing a game while driving a car is a really, really bad idea. I’m wary of saying it’s Niantic’s fault just because someone can misuse the game and have consequences for such actions.

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$200M…for what?