By now if you haven’t heard all the rave about Pokemon Go you probably live under a rock, or you actually have a life. Pokemon Go has made an even larger impact than the release of popular games like Clash of Clans or Candy Crush. I am not much of a gamer, though. I have not dabbled in any of these hit mobile games. However, I like to think of myself as an aspiring marketer, businessman, and entrepreneur. With this in mind, it isn’t difficult to see the formula for how Pokemon Go became an instant success.
The first and foremost reason Pokemon Go is such a hit is nostalgia. If you didn’t play some version of Pokemon as a kid, you didn’t have a childhood. After what seems like decades, Nintendo reintroduced the once-popular animated game to the world, virtually doubling its original demographic. This is understandable and is due in part to nostalgia. Not only is Nintendo targeting youngsters, pre-teens, and teens just as it did years ago, but now also older Millennials who played classic Pokemon games way back when.
Users crave the sense of youth they had the day they picked up a GameBoy for the first time. Nintendo is playing off the emotions of its demographic, and they are smart to do so. It is the utmost core of marketing. Create a product centered around a culture, atmosphere, or memory and the rest will follow. Build it and they will come. Many times people (subconciously) don’t buy a product for its direct functionality, but rather the idea or vision the product helps portray. Nintendo is selling a culture, a memory, nostalgia.
Touch of Modern Tech
Obviously, Pokemon Go is a bit different from its predecessors. Technology has come a very long way since the original Pokemon game. This has enabled Nintendo to increase its target audience since anyone with a smartphone (so, everyone) can download and play the game, for free. No longer do you have to buy the game console and the individual game chip/disc to play; Nintendo has made it accessible to all. Additionally, modern smartphone technology has made playing Pokemon Go as quick and convenient as reaching into your pocket.
From what I understand, Pokemon Go is not a campaign/storyline style game. This means there is not a definite end to the game. Users can return each day to new challenges, battles, wild Pokemon, etc. This strays from the original console games where Nintendo created a very structured framework. Gamers had to follow a specific route through the game to the finish and had little to no room for “free-world” play. Given that Pokemon Go is a location based game, the entire world is the map, literally. This brings a social aspect into the game as well as Pokemon Masters seek, find, and battle each other for bragging rights. This social scene helps build the culture and camaraderie Nintendo is hoping to create, furthering the credibility of the game and brand.
Precedent for Virtual Reality
Pokemon Go demands access to the user’s camera and location, enabling the game to overlay Pokemon on a real-life canvas, sotospeak. When boiled down to the crux of this concept, virtual reality emerges.
According to serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, “virtual reality is where the markets are headed.” Vaynerchuk spoke heavily of virtual reality at ICON 2016. Gary Vee’s digital instinct has served him well thus far as he has accurately predicted the successes of phenomenas like YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, and Uber.
“My investments in virtual reality will be what enables me to buy the (New York) Jets,” Vaynerchuk states confidently.
Pokemon Go is the early development of virtual reality; it’s the framework, the early precedent. If you think Nintendo’s game is well-developed and planned, just wait. It’s coming. I don’t know what, and I don’t know when, but an evolution of digital era is going to happen. Virtual reality is going to be a huge part of that revolution, if not the foundation.
Pokemon Go is undoubtedly a big deal right now. In my opinion, it’s a fad. It will die, or at least fade, as Candy Crush or Clash of Clans has. However, what Nintendo has done is marketing and branding genius. They have combined the power of nostalgia and technology and packaged it. They have created a culture and established a vision their users can align with. It’s no wonder Nintendo’s shares have jumped 60% year to date. They have also set a new precedent for virtual reality games and technology.
All-in-all, no one can argue the fact that Nintendo has done anything less than absolutely killed it with Pokemon Go.