Pete Jenkins, Gamification expert, explains the 5 keys to the success of Pokemon GO and the lessons to draw from it
A short history of the Pokemon success story
First, let’s calm down.
One cannot understand the success of the Pokemon Go game without admitting that the cartoon was a worldwide success long before the launch of the augmented reality game.
To some, Pokemon may be a bit has-been, but the brand has been present all over the world for over 20 years, and has developed a number of franchises. A cartoon, different board games, playing cards, and… about twenty movies have been derived from it.
According to my sources, before the launch of the much-talked-about application, about 300 million copies of the Pokemon game, under its different forms, had already been sold.
Important fact: Pokemon had not yet released any actual mobile game.
It was then quite obvious that the fan community would respond well, right from the start.
The advantage of such a long wait was that by 2016, it was the perfect timing to launch an augmented reality game (or AR).
Basically, Pokemon was a huge thing way before the Pokemon Go phenomenon.
5 keys to the success of Pokemon Go – and the lessons it can teach gamification experts
So… Are you a Pokemon Go player or are you only commenting on the phenomenon?
Statistically, there is chances you have played the game before, directly or with a friend, since the number of Pokemon Go users has already gone past the number of Twitter users. Yes, you read right…
How did they do it? How was this success so quick?
The team behind the game, Niantic, has a lot of merit.
They had already revolutionized the genre with Ingress; with Pokemon Go, they focused on the basics and brought them to levels never seen before.
The game works on a “freemium” basis. This is absolutely not innovative, but it allowed the game to take off extremely quickly and conquer millions of smartphones in a few days. Depending on the “freemium” game, the number of players that switch to a paying account varies between 2 and 7%.
For Pokemon GO, the first numbers announced by Apple were a revenue of around 30 million dollars in 2 weeks.
Pokemon GO “gamifies” the everyday life.
Its predecessor, Ingress, had already paved the way: thanks to augmented reality, the ride between home and the office turned into a gaming experience.
The limits? Our imagination.
Each trip, each ride can be grounds for a challenge, a game. Of course, as time goes by, your character can evolve, pass levels and unblock new features.
The game exploits the full potential of your smartphone.
Video immersion, precise use of your GPS signal, connexion through social media… It is a full experience!
Collectors are the most addicted players. The most common player profile on this game, the achiever, likes to collect trophies and badges and to evolve from level to level.
Pokemon Go takes advantage of that; it is a collecting game, where the feeling of frustration (to not have all the Pokemons) is so strong it becomes the primary motivation.
Niantic also perfectly used the concept of rarity, so much so that it was causing riots in places where the rarest Pokemons were discovered.
Would the game really be that interesting if players couldn’t share and put their achievements on display?
Comparing your game history, learning the tips and tricks to progress faster. This game wouldn’t have any meaning if it didn’t gather a whole community of committed players. The basic mechanism of the game is viral.
And yet… the gameplay is quite basic, and, personally, I find it hard to really enjoy it, as the emphasis is put so strongly on collecting and accumulating elements.
It is not my favourite game dynamic, and this is true for about 25% of player profiles.
But this is only a start: Niantic is already working on scenario evolutions, and especially, on the integration of brands and commercials in the game. Augmented reality is here to stay.
Better, I think it is going to revolutionize our day-to-day life. And it has started already. For one Pokemon GO, how many similar apps already exist for visiting tourists in a foreign city?
For a brand like Starbucks, doesn’t it mean many possibilities to make a customer’s visit much more fun and interactive? For large companies, imagine a new collaborator visiting his new office and meeting his colleagues in augmented reality!
Pokemon Go allows us to already make a few obvious assumptions about what is to come:
Augmented reality is just the predecessor to a technologically mature virtual reality that is much richer and complete.
Within 3, 5 or 10 years, smartphones will have become a mere memory and our eyes will “see” like they never have before. Via glasses, contact lenses, implants… However.
A more automatic integration of augmented reality has already transformed our daily life. Google Glass wasn’t a failure: it was just too much for many people (and still is).
Remember, the first reality TV shows scared us too. And the first dating websites as well. The path towards more augmented reality is inevitable and Pokemon GO has also contributed to that.
The general public loves augmented reality… when it is well done! Pokemon GO is very user-friendly and intuitive.
User experience is at the heart of the game development: the player is quickly taken on a success spiral and becomes addicted (the “collector”, not all players).
Peak Me Up, the gamified app
Discover how Peak Me Up works and how is going to help you motivate your sales reps exceed their targets!
The principle of Peak Me Up is to use gamification techniques to motivate sales reps.