The time has finally come to break our silence about the global phenomenon that is plaguing our data plans, draining batteries, and taking users on impromptu outdoor adventures alike. Police in Missouri even reported an armed robbery that took place with the lure of this new app. Yes, the augmented reality-infused Pokémon GO app launched last week and it’s spread like wildfire ever since. Has the app developer, Niantic, hit the jackpot? Or is this fire just a passing fad?
Revisiting Augmented Reality
Since the first augmented reality (AR) app, Foursquare, was launched in the iOS App Store, thousands of app creators and brands have jumped on the AR bandwagon. Each has tried to make their place in the new space that’s a crossover between the digital and real world, but few have found any real success.
Of course, Pokémon GO is not the first AR game on the market. The entire game is very similar to Niantic’s last attempt at AR – “Ingress.” But with over 15 million installs on the App Store and Google Play, Pokémon GO is truly different than the apps you’re used to. There is no denying that this app has had a huge effect on varying cultures and groups outside the early-adopter tech communities. Never has there been an app that has had such an impact on the daily lives of its users, as you must be mobile to play the game fully.
The app is simple to understand for non-native Pokémon fans. It also bridges the gap between the strong Pokémon culture, circa the mid 90’s, with “Generation Z” of today. Pokémon has an established set of 150+ characters that have been followed by a fan base for over two decades. Traditional Pokémon culture ran much deeper than just a fun game. Millennial gamers grew up with Pokémon but never grew out of it.
Fabulous Or Flash In The Pan?
For all its history and current hype, the question remains: is it just another flash in the pan? Should marketers try and jump on the bandwagon or should they avoid the inevitable “played-out” aftermath of a post-viral phenomenon?
With every new wave of tech innovation, there are always copycats that use the success of the newcomers to boost the launch of their own product. So, we expect to see some companies emerging with their own takes on the budding world of augmented reality.
In the meantime, it’s tough for most brands to ignore this phenomenon, as it is the dominant topic of conversation. However, it won’t be this way for long. Due to the rate at which Pokémon Go became popular, there will inevitably be a crash where it’s no longer as cool to be wandering around the streets trying to catch the rarest Pokémon.
Strike While The Iron Is Hot
One of the big reasons for the unmatched success of this new game-play interface is that it must be played on the go, and with devices that never leave consumers’ hands – their phones. The trick for marketers is to find an organic connection to this form of gameplay.
When it comes to retail marketing, taking advantage of local landmarks is key. Pokémon gyms and Pokéstops are places where you can show people your familiarity with the game and its users. For example, try posting signs around your business advertising which ‘team’ you support. Choose one that has the most active users in your area.
Soon enough, marketers will be able to target users through sponsored locations within the game. This feature will especially appeal to retailers. John Hanke, Chief Executive of Niantic, told Financial Times that, “sponsored locations would provide a new revenue stream, in addition to in-app purchases.”
Although Pokémon Go has captured an unprecedented number of users and excitement, Pokémon is not the real future of AR and AR marketing. A day will soon come where augmented reality and Google Maps merge to create a massive online database and a user-friendly way to search locations immediately around you. Bur rather than catching a Pokémon, businesses will you want you to “catch” their latest deals. Happy Catching!