Pokemon GO is without debate this summer’s big record-breaking hit. One only needs to look at the numbers: five days after release the game Pokemon GO had 23 million daily active users, surpassing Twitter and becoming the biggest mobile game in US. On average people play Pokemon GO 34 minutes a day while their Facebook app is active “only” 23 minutes. According to a study from SurveyMonkey Pokemon GO’s earnings are double the standard of the gaming sector. Let’s be blunt: $16 million a day in the peak is not a little. Pokemon GO is still not available in all countries of the world and yet there is information that it has reached the ceiling of its number of daily users. I think these are still premature conclusions. We still have to wait for data from all countries and then judge.
Pokemon GO was launched in its first phase on July 6 only in US, AU and NZ. In just 4.5 hours the app reached #1 on the US AppStore. To reach the top spot in America you need 140 000 downloads. It only needed 14 hours to reach first place in TOP Grossing.
Even the creators themselves did not anticipate this kind of success. I don’t know what they were expecting when they released the game in US. Softlaunchingt in a few smaller countries would have been enough. The game would have remained secret and they could have fixed any last bugs and prepare for a proper Global Launch. We employed this strategy in softlaunching our game Diggy’s Adventure for mobile and I must say that it’s worked perfectly so far.
The creators of Pokemon GO say the game is currently at 10 % of what they want it to be. Adding new functionality, Pokemon center and many other new things awaits us. On the one hand it is a great phenomenon and on the other hand an unfinished game. Fans who call for social mechanics and interaction with friends or opponents have noticed, too. Evidently someone was impatient. But all that was needed was to keep the game under the lid for a little longer. Instead they rather released an unfinished game where features will be added gradually. However, when I look at daily earning of this unfinished game, I’m no longer wondering why it’s already out among people.
It’s obvious that Niantic is not very experienced in marketing. A messed up release like this would bury any other game. Servers were lagging, the game was crashing and people were unable to log into the game because of the great load of players. Years of work irretrievably gone. The Pokemon brand is so strong, however, that fans were able to forgive the developer for these initial mistakes. The rest of us can learn a lesson. The funniest part is that Niantic is currently hiring for the position of “community manager” which I think they should have had filled as one of the first positions so they could promptly react to user requests and complaints.
Despite all of this, Pokemon GO spread overnight like the plague. I’m not so surprised, because people in my area, including me, started changing their iPhone country setting to America in order to download Pokemon GO. Fortunately, the game is now available in Slovakia, too.
People are probably prepared for a great wave of virtual reality. Pokemon GO is proof of that. In bring a fantasy story from the 90s into everyday life. It’s a concept of augmented/virtual reality, where pokemons appear in the neighborhood in front of residential high rises, in favorite restaurants, shops or on the bosom of your wife.
Marketers should pay attention here. A new trend is coming which could be relevant for your target group. You can connect elements from real life with virtual or augmented reality – for example, personalized adverts based on your location? Here you go.
People probably play Pokemon GO because they grew up right when this epic Japanese show was on TV and now they got the chance to catch pokemons in real life. Or they play because they were swept up in the hysteria, which is undoubtedly here. People walk around outside, meet at various places, get to know each other and talk about their hobby – Pokemon GO. Most games can limit you in some way while you play. You can lose interest; you can encounter an obstacle or a difficult level that you can only pass with an in-app purchase. With Pokemon GO it’s a bit different. You can walk around town for hours visiting pokestops, where you receive various rewards. A pokemon can even hatch from an egg in the game. But first you have to walk 2.5 or 10 kilometers. In this way you prolong your gaming without the need to pay, not even one dollar. But there’s a catch. If you want to be the best pokemon trainer, you need to buy an external charger for your phone. You won’t get far without it. The game is turned on while you walk, otherwise your kilometers won’t be counted. It keeps your attention with ears and eyes at the ready!
Each and every walk around town searching for pokemons is unique. The environment is different, you meet new people, the weather can change and even the time when you set out for your hunt can vary. A walk is, after all, a physical activity that stimulates your mind and body. Now add the pleasant feeling Pokemon GO gives you and you have a recipe for success.
But watch out! Since you are looking for pokemons on a real map, your location is turned on. The app can share your position in case you are a criminal, outcast or something similar. You might also be sending unidentified information about yourself to other companies for purposes of research, analysis of demographic profiles, and so on. Niantic received a not insubstantial investment from Google. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Conspiracy theory lover just got their mouths wet. Pokemon GO has full access to your Google account without any warning. Thanks to pokemon hunting Google will now which places people visit, where they move, what their habits are. Google can also save street view during pokemon catching. Interesting, right? There is really a lot of data generated during playing which can be misused. I can imagine that any abuse of this data would put Google in a bad light and that is something they can’t afford. Personally I think we have nothing to worry about, but the devil never sleeps and unless the data is properly protected, anything can happen.
A different kind of danger arises when you keep your head down looking at your phone. Especially if you are crossing the street or ignoring your surroundings. Or if you play while driving. Please, don’t do it! Several completely needless accidents have already happened in the world and believe me; the game is not so good that you should sacrifice your life to it.
Will Pokemon GO be more than just a summer hit? I think no one can give a 100 % answer to this question. But I think Pokemon GO could be a long-term successful game. The core fans will catch pokemons forever and ever. We’ll see how it will be with the wider audience.
Players evidently monetize well, if you recall the daily earnings of $2 million. What is Niantic making so much money on? Surprisingly, on pokemons! At the start of the game you get a couple dozen pokeballs which serve to catch pokemons. They run out rapidly during the catching. And couple that with the fact that not every pokemon can be caught with just one ball. Sometimes it happens that you are catching Pidgeot – a flying pokemon – and you throw 40 pokeballs at him without catching him, leaving you with tears in your eyes (and smiles on the faces of trainers around you). What happens when you spend all your pokeballs? You can get them at pokestops or simply buy them in the store. The store is very intuitive. It offers a couple of things, which you simply want to buy on your way to become the very best pokemon trainer. Lures, incense, happy eggs, pokeballs or a bag with more capacity. They are all very useful things which speed up your progress. Incense is a nifty thing, which lures pokemons to your position for 30 minutes. Every 200 meters, which you cross, a pokemon will appear for you. If you stand still, it’s every 5 minutes. The happy egg will double the experience you gain for 30 minutes. More experience, higher level. Higher level, stronger pokemons. I wonder how much money did the American, who caught all pokemons in two weeks, spend.
Niantic is not the only company earning from Pokemon GO. Various offers popped up on the interwebs – a driver or assistant for pokemon trainers. In England there was even a teacher who left her work and started focusing only on pokemon training. As a teacher she earned £2000, but training can earn her much more. One only needs to go to ebay, where player accounts are for sale. From £100 up to £7000. It only depends on what level your account is at. Crazy, right?
It remains to solve the monetization of companies, where I see great potential. There are two types of locations in the game – pokestop and gym. Sometimes it happens that the pokestop is a restaurant, shopping mall, or any other kind of establishment or shop. Owners started to experiment with this cleverly. In the game you can buy the above mentioned lure, which attracts pokemons to your pokestop. And of course, with pokemons come customers hand in hand. This how one pizzeria in America managed to raise their sales by 75 %. The owner invested just around $10 for an all-day lure. We needn’t go beyond the borders of Slovakia. Just watch the facebook fanpage of Aupark, where you can see that they are utilizing the ongoing pokemon craze very well. Niantic even said for the New York Times that they plan to add sponsored locations into the game. Maybe it sounds senseless, but even this can be the face of marketing in the near future.