Death by Pokemon Go? Game 'caused up to $7.3bn damage'

Researchers have estimated that Pokemon Go players caused up to $7.3bn (£5.4bn) in costs across the US in the 148 days after its release.

The study – titled Death by Pokemon Go – blamed two deaths on the game and found that it caused an increase in car accidents.

The researchers from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management made their estimates by extrapolating data from “detailed police accident reports” for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, and applied them at the nation-wide level.

The researchers from the West Lafayette, Indiana school were particularly interested in the game’s geo-location features and what correlation they could find between real-world locations and car accidents.

They claimed that “the county would have experienced two fewer traffic fatalities had Pokemon Go not been introduced.”

The researchers’ assessed that the cost of Pokemon Go players could be between $2bn (£1.5bn) and $7.3bn (£5.4bn) nation-wide.

Video: Did Pokemon Go put people in danger?

A 73% of the cost that the researchers attribute to Pokemon Go players was established by estimating the value of the number of lives lost in car accidents during this period.

Despite the correlation between the in-game Pokestop locations and the accident rates, however, the researchers did not establish any causal links, nor did they interview those involved in car accidents.

The authors believed that their numbers suggested 256 car accident fatalities were caused by Pokemon Go between 6 July 1016 and 30 November 2016.

There were in total 37,461 motor vehicle deaths in the US in 2016 – a 5% increase on the 35,485 deaths in 2015.

A man plays Pokemon GO in Palm Springs, California

Image: A man plays Pokemon GO in Palm Springs, California

The study is not the only criticism of Pokemon Go, however.

A 22-year-old Russian man called Ruslan Sokolovsky was jailed after filming himself playing the game in the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg – a Russian Orthodox church built on the spot Tsar Nicholas II and his family were killed in 1918.

A couple from Arizona were arrested after leaving their two-year-old son without water on a boiling summer’s day to go and play the game.

In Australia, a couple were threatened at gunpoint in New South Wales whilst playing, although state police said there was “nothing to suggest” the thieves had lured the 29-year-old players to the location using the app.

The same arguments and concerns are likely to be raised again as the augmented reality game’s developers, Niantic, have announced plans to launch a new game in the style of Harry Porter.

Niantic did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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