What Pokémon Go Teaches us about Marketing and the 21st Century Lifestyle (1 of 3)
Pokémon Go: An augmented reality that sheds light on our reality.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the Pokémon Go craze; and you’ve probably seen a coworker, friend or stranger roam aimlessly with their phone in hand trying to “catch em’ all”. Or maybe you have downloaded the addicting game and tried it out yourself. Whatever your experience with the new fixation, there’s something to be said about its striking implications for business and marketing.
The key to extracting the relevance to your business is to understand three questions about the game: why is it successful; how long will its success last; and what is the best response?
The first pressing question is why: Why is this release of this game causing so much hype, and why are players so invested? There are several games that take root in an augmented reality. Additionally, location gaming is not an entirely new concept. Still, there seems to be something special and alluring about this particular game.
The 21st century has been marked as an age of interactive technology alongside personalized product. When technology is both interactive and personalized it doubles in intrigue. For instance, in Pokémon Go not only are you constantly interacting with other gamers, you are constantly interacting with your personal surroundings. Interaction AND personalization. Plus, you have the ability to customize your own character and profile on the game, similar to highly popular social media sites. When technology, no matter if it is a game or website, gives users a sense of personality it allows for user differentiation. This differentiation fosters connection between the user and the technology which in turn grants comfort for users. They have their own space, their own domain. They are not simply “gamer #789” or “profile #789”.
Pokémon Go supersedes the gaming enticements of interactivity and personalization by also offering versatility. The game is ever-changing because it is a reflection of your current surroundings. On top of that, it is offered in almost every location imaginable. Niantic CEO, John Hanke, emphasizes the company’s focus on bringing this game to all parts of the world, whether it be a city or small village, “If we designed something that only worked in San Francisco, it wouldn’t be a real success. We wanted it to work globally.” In fact, Hanke said they purposefully created an incentive for players to seek and discover obscure places, “It’s a defense, like security through obscurity. You try to grab something that’s far away from everywhere else.” This creates the idea of endless potential within the game. You can always discover something new- like a rare Pokémon- because you can always discover some place new. It’s a game of hide-and-seek but the playing field is the world map, and the “hiders”, or Pokémon, are infinite. In some sense, you can never win, while at the same time the idea that you can always grow in strength is almost just as incentivizing.
The true secret to this game’s success however, is its name recognition. For the millennials, the simple mention of “Pokémon” brings on a surge of childhood memories collecting cards, watching the TV show and spending hours on a Gameboy. Pokémon Go is the manifestation of an old childhood fantasy – living amongst the Pokémon that before had only filled card decks and virtual Pokémon Banks. So not only does the game attract young new players, Pokémon Go hits a nostalgic sweet spot that incites curiosity and childhood indulgence for adults too.
A more important question for businesses is how long this fascination will last. Despite the initial success of the game, a majority of users are bound to lose interest. The question is when will that be? The new craze may only last a year, or a month. There’s no way of knowing for certain. Will Niantic maintain enough engagement with new additions and versions of the game? Hanke claims that the game and game processing has much more potential and that gamers have much to look forward to. Even so, it seems unlikely that this first surge of popularity could ever be matched. Unless modifications are made to attract a wider audience base as oppose to retaining the base the game already holds, this craze could be short lived.
Now that we have addressed the why and how, make sure to revisit our blog on Wednesday to read on about what businesses and the general public can glean from it all. What is the right reaction? Is this a true marketing opportunity? What does all this say about millennials and today’s youth? Come back Wednesday to hear our take.