What can we learn from PokemonGO?

Original author: Tobias van Schneider

We are pretty sure that you already know about PokemonGO , an incredibly popular mobile game.
This article is not an overview of the game itself, we will focus on its impact. We will try to look behind the scenes and look at the situation from the point of view of marketing and product creation . Therefore, even if you are not passionate about PokemonGO, this post may still be useful to you. Its author is Tobias van Schneider, who often expresses interesting and noteworthy thoughts.

PokemonGO hooked me instantly. There are many reasons for this, but nostalgia has become the main thing for me. As a teenager, I spent hours playing Pokemon on my Gameboy Color.

Now PokemonGO is back to become the most popular paid app on the iOS Store in just a few days. And people pay not only for the game itself: they spend a lot of money on in-app purchases. According to Sensor Tower, PokemonGO is now generating more revenue than any other iPhone app in the United States. To date, the game has about 10 million downloads, although nothing has passed since its launch.


According to Forbes, the point is that PokemonGO will have more daily active users than the Twitter platform. Of course, it is too early to compare, but we must admit: for several days this is a solid achievement, especially if we recall that the game has not officially left outside the United States.

So the question is, how did PokemonGO achieve such popularity?

Usually, there are many reasons for this, and a universal recipe simply does not exist. But there are a few points that deserve attention.

1. Background

In 2012, Niantic app developer launched a very similar game called Ingress on Android, and in 2014 on iOS. You may have heard of her, perhaps not, but 12 million people have played it. Ingress is the same augmented reality game like PGO, but with a different plot.

In fact, PokemonGO borrowed technical aspects from Ingress, but took as its basis the more famous history and well-recognized brand.

All this suggests that Niantic already had a lot of experience at the time PGO was launched. And therefore this success can hardly be called unexpected. In addition, it seems that Niantic belongs to Google, which explains its excellent ability to handle geolocation services.

2. Availability

I think this is very important. PokemonGO appeared on iOS and Android at the same time. I do not remember the case when a game developer or another company launches its application on both platforms on the same day.

In addition to this, there is no confusing registration process. You log in using your Google account and you're done. It would be even more convenient to use Facebook, but perhaps Niantic - like Google's (former) company - had its own reasons to do so.

3. Gameplay

If we talk about the game, then PokemonGO checks literally every nook and cranny. No explanation is required here. Getting down to business and getting first rewards is easy. The game has almost no educational introduction - it simply is not necessary.

PGO has everything that makes RPGs successful. From raising the level of your own hero and capturing the first Pokemon to collecting items while walking along the streets.

Everything happens very fast. Unnoticed, you spend a couple of hours playing the game.

FeedbackThe game works instantly. This is similar to checking notifications from Facebook or Instagram. The new Pokémon can lurk right around the corner, and capturing it brings no less pleasure than clicking on the red Instagram notification circle or updating the feed. And I am sure that you do this regularly.

The gameplay smoothly leads you from one trigger to another, simultaneously rewarding. In terms of design, PGO is flawless. Yes, the game has many bugs, it crashed every minute, but I still rebooted it because I just wanted to play. She hooked me.

In addition, PokemonGO seriously relies on word of mouth.

There is no way to make friends and share something with them. It makes you take screenshots and show off your progress on other social networks.

It's great that PGO does not have its own list of friends. Since the game is played in augmented reality mode, you have to go to people and communicate with them . It inspires you to interact with strangers, and, thanks to petty tricks, you understand that you are not really alone. For example, she shows you on the map “hot spots” with high activity, suitable for meetings.

Even if none of your friends play PGO, you will meet someone very quickly. This serves as the magical basis for the rapid spread of PokemonGO. Many other games and applications suffer from the chicken or egg problem. Their plot may be great, but first they make you add friends. And if you don’t have them yet, then you simply refuse the game. It's too high a price to just figure out if you like it.

But what is the influence of PokemonGO?

For the past few days, I have been walking around Brooklyn with an iPhone in my hands, trying to catch Pokemon. It was cool. Although usually I’m not very interested in toys for mobile (most likely, I will quickly abandon this one as well), I haven’t had such a cool experience yet.

In almost every corner, I met people absorbed in the same application. It is clear that if someone is standing in a strange place, pointing his iPhone at the wall, he is unlikely to take a picture.

Yesterday, while walking in neighboring neighborhoods, I met about 15 strangers engaged in the same.

This game has a certain feature that I have not seen before in other applications. Since it uses augmented reality, a certain connection arises between the digital and real worlds.

Usually I don’t speak with strangers who have buried their phones, even if I see that they are playing the same game as me. But, since Pokemon exists to some extent in the real world, and I need to turn on the camera to see them, the barrier separating the two realities disappears.

At the weekend, almost every time I noticed someone playing PGO, or they saw me, we started a conversation and interacted on a social level.

I am not left with the thought of how this game can have an impact on millions of people suffering from social phobia and even depression. For those who rarely leave their home and are afraid to be among people.

I can not classify myself as a social phobia, but I prefer loneliness, and being in large companies quickly exhausts me. I think I never talked so much with strangers while walking around the city, like this weekend.

Yes, you can object that it’s my own fault and I can talk with strangers without any game. This may be true, but for millions it's easier said than done.

After conducting a brief investigation on the Internet, I discovered thousands of tweets from other users confirming my assumption that PokemonGO is able to have a positive effect on psychological and physical health . Obviously, this is not a qualitative study, but ...

Now the question is: How long will PokemonGO last?

It is unknown, and it is too early to talk about it. But there are a couple of points worth mentioning:

1. PokemonGO has much higher potential than it seems now. I would suggest that her growth will stop soon, but a sufficiently large group of regular players will remain faithful to her.

2. In fact, PGO launched another wave of augmented reality. Augmented reality has been popular for a long time (we talked about marketing trends here ), but in most cases it seems too cunning or is used only for experimental purposes. I am pretty sure that other games and applications will follow PokemonGO.

PokemonGO has proven: using augmented reality may be appropriate.

If we talk about me, then most likely in a couple of days I will abandon this game, but not because. that I don't like her. I'm just not interested in mobile games in principle.

But the lessons taught by PokemonGO are valuable to me - the designer and creator of the products. Even if you don’t like Pokémon or the game as a whole, there is something to see and learn from.

PS. We recommend another useful article on the topic of self- development - 25 tools for improving productivity (and which ones you should not use) .

The author of the translation is Vyacheslav Davidenko, founder of TESTutor .

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