Technology and Marketing commentators have been looking for ways in which ‘augmented reality’ can be shown to work on a large scale. The re-imagined version of the 20 year old Nintendo game Pokémon in the form or Pokémon Go is a working example of augmented reality in action.
As an IT Support Company in Hertfordshire several of us here have fexperience of Pokémon either first time around as a game or of the spin-off products. Who would have thought therefore that after all this time it’s back in a big way? This time too the game has marketing people really excited at the future possibilities.
What Is Pokémon Go?
Pokémon Go mixes gaming and reality. It is a game played via a mobile phone app that has been developed with the help of its original creators Nintendo by a Californian company that reportedly has links to Google.
Players of Pokémon Go have to find and catch comic book style creatures and train them for battle.
Since the craze of the original video game lost momentum the Pokémon franchise has been responsible for other spin off crazes such as Pokémon cards.
The Big Difference With Pokémon Go
What makes Pokémon Go so different is that it has reinvented a widely known and much loved brand into an ‘augmented reality game’ that achieves the opposite of what many other games are capable of i.e. getting the player out of the house.
As an IT Support Company in Hertfordshire we’re hearing positive comments about Pokémon Go not just because of its ability to engage the imagination and get people outdoors, but also because it is some kind of proof that commercial augmented reality opportunities are now only just around the corner.
How Pokémon Go Works
The Pokémon Go app uses the GPS / mapping and camera elements of the user’s phone to create a view of the real world and overlay it with the game’s fictional characters. Players of the game then go out into real world locations where they can use the game on their phone to find and ‘catch’ the creatures.
The fact that the game tends to put interesting characters / things near real world landmarks e.g. tourist attractions in towns and cities, means that Pokémon hotspots are created where players of the game are able to spot and meet other players.
To help give some idea of how popular this game is there were 5.3 million tweets worldwide about Pokémon Go in its first week which is more than the 11.7 million for Brexit in the week of the UK referendum!
Players spend an average of 43 minutes a day on Pokémon Go which is more than Whatsapp, Instagram or Snapchat. In terms Internet searches Pokémon Go app interest now exceeds the interest in pornography!
Who Plays It?
Game players on smart phones tend to be those in younger age groups although it is believed that many of Pokémon Go’s players are thought to be those twenty somethings who remember Pokémon first time around.
Why Is It So Popular?
As well as the nostalgia aspect Pokémon’s appeal comes from a combination of things including:
Walking along while looking at a screen and not concentrating on your surroundings is never a great idea. Just look at some of the terrible things such as road traffic accidents that befall ‘smartphone zombies’.
This week for example Pokémon Go players on a Somerset beach sparked an alert after wading out half a mile across dangerous mudflats to hunt for the game's virtual monsters.
In Manchester, police warned of the dangers of getting too caught up in the game and ending up in dangerous situations and areas after 3 students in Hulme had their mobile phones snatched while playing the game.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The huge success and popularity of the game has caused a great deal of excitement among business investors who believe that it will bring augmented reality into the mainstream, thereby providing a huge new area of business opportunities in the very near future.
For businesses, Pokémon Go provides the first tangible proof that augmented reality can work.
The popularity of the game could open up opportunities for branding and advertising, and other possible monetising opportunities as there are with different aspects of Google.
Retail outlets could also leverage the fact that they are situated near to rare / important Pokémons.