In early months of Pokemon Go craze last year, many players made the headlines for doing crazy things while playing the game. At that time, it was reported that the damages caused by players while playing the game were speculated to be worth millions of dollars, but according to a new study, it could actually be worth billions.
John McConnell and Mara Facci's recent study called Death by Pokemon Go, claims that Pokemon Go players might have caused $7.3 billion in damages. The researchers acquired their data by analyzing the cases of misuse of the app in Tippecanoe County, Indiana where the damage caused by playing Pokemon Go was estimated to reach $25.5 million. Then, they applied the results to a nationwide scale.
"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," the study reads. " Extrapolation of these estimates to nation-wide levels yields a total ranging from $2 to $7.3 billion for the same period."
It's worth noting that these estimates include fatalities and vehicle damages. According to the study, 300 more traffic accidents occurred in the 148 days after the game was released in July 2016 compared to the same time period in 2015. 134 traffic accidents happened real-world places where PokeStops were found in Pokemon GO. Around that time, PokeStops were the only way players could collect items, and some players tried to "spin" the PokeStops while driving.
The study claims that the traffic accidents seemed to occur near PokeStops, which suggests that the accidents were more likely caused by distracted driving due to fans trying to collect items in Pokemon GO than other possible causes, but of course, there's no way for us to find out if all those accidents are actually caused by the viral game.
Since there are significantly less Pokemon GO players now compared to last year, and developer Niantic added a "speed cap" that shuts down the game when traveling about 30 miles-per-hour, the results of the study probably don't apply now.
Do you think the game is entirely responsible for the billions worth of damages? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.