Since it dropped in Canada, I’ve been testing out Pokémon Go for two reasons: first, I think it’s important, as a marketer, to understand platforms and apps that have the potential to blow up. I need to determine if (and how) they might enter into my clients’ marketing mixes. Second, I grew up playing Pokemon, so it’s always been familiar. I’ve heard all types of opinions, from the game is “childish”, to “it will only be here for a month or two”. They may be true, but it hasn’t stopped the game from blowing up and landing more active users than Tinder and Twitter in the US. Here are 5 reasons why I think you need to take this app seriously, and why it will probably be here for a while.
As I mentioned, I grew up playing the game as a kid, especially in the winter when we couldn’t play basketball outdoors. We huddled around our Game Boys and battled each other every day. Nintendo has always done a great job creating games that appeal to the younger generation, but this time, it also made a game accessible to 25 to 30-year-olds with high-end smartphones. Nostalgia is an extermely powerful emotion and it’s one reason why so many “older” people are playing; it brings them back to a happier, more hopeful time, when catching a Pikachu was one of life’s greatest challenges.
2. First Widespread Augmented Reality Implementation
We’ve seen similar attempts at it, but I must say, Nintendo and Niantic have done an incredible job of overlaying this game on Google Maps and integrating local art installations, graffiti, places of worship and other landmarks into the game. I’ve discovered hidden gems near my offices that I’ve been walking past blindly for years. The fact you can catch monsters anywhere means that my Instagram and Twitter feeds are full of images taken by everyone from executives to students.
3. Benefit for Businesses
There are a few companies around my workplace that have significantly benefited from creating “Lures” during business hours. A “Lure” is something you can earn (although sparingly) or purchase for $1.20 per half hour. It attracts nearby Pokémon (and gamers) to a specific area while it is active. These businesses keep their Lures running throughout the working day, approximately 10 hours for a restaurant. Twenty hours at $1.20 is $24 for a constant stream of people passing by your store. More importantly, users generally hangout around Lures for long periods of time, and they’re liable to pop in for a bite. If a restaurant sells 3–4 meals per day from those Lures (taking into account cost of goods sold) they make their money back while exposing themselves to new customers every day. Of course, Nintendo plans to make this more expensive moving forward to capitalize on the business aspect of it all. McDonalds struck a custom deal with Niantec and Nintendo and sales jumped 27% in July since the game launched.
4. Community Building
Most people now assume that if your head’s down in your phone while walking on the sidewalk, chances are you’re playing the game. Buzzfeed recently discovered that in New York more than 1/3 of people with their phone on in front of them were playing the game. When the game first released in Toronto, there was a “launch party” where more than 700 people attended. In this Vice video, players bond instantly, based solely on their mutual love of the game. The community aspect of this game is huge and will continue to grow. I’m super excited to see how it affects colleges and universities once schools begin again.
5. Mental Health and Physical Benefits
For years, parents have complained that kids need to get out of the house more. There is now firm evidence that suggests that this game has improved mental health outcomes for some users who have had anxiety and other challenges. An upcoming study is tracking walking increases since the game has been released, and it will likely show a drastic increase in physical activity for Pokémon Go players. This user lost 25 pounds in his successful quest to catch all available Pokemon in Canada. This game is literally changing how people go about their day.
Of course, there have been negative stories about people getting robbed, a girl coming across a dead body and other accounts of negative press but as with anything that has literally opened up a new gaming genre, there will be big hiccups along the way. Regardless, you should take the platform seriously and look into creative ways to implement it into your strategy. With some of my clients, we’ve started school-based groups to help build on-campus communities and will be creating events to help generate even more. Happy hunting my friends, remember to catch em’ all!