Reinventing an already existing game (entry), no technical skills, very light gameplay, classic point mechanics… Pokemon Go is on paper anything but the best game of the year. However, breaking the record of downloads, it is clear that this is a real planetary cardboard box. We tried to understand the causes of this global phenomenon…
1) Archiving: A Human Drive
From Neanderthals to the present day, the desire to collect is a real human impulse. If Tutankhamun collected canes and stones, this phenomenon transcends ages, ages, but also social classes. Pokémon Go is based entirely on this principle and encourages this hunt to “catch them all”.
2) nostalgia card
With 250 million games, cartoons, cards, and many derivatives sold in the 2000s, Pokémon is a strong brand that has truly marked a decade. 20 years after the release of the first games, players who were 10 years old at the time are now 30… a real driving force behind registering curiosity to dive back into this retrograde world millennium (Born between 1980 and 2000).
3) Fashion of Augmented Reality
With the release of many augmented reality headsets to the general public and its appropriation by many applications (video games, movies, education, e-commerce, building, etc.), “VR” is undoubtedly one of the major trends of 2016. If the mechanics of Pokemon Go are not entirely based on it (it is also advisable to disable it), it has aroused curiosity and brought to it a completely modern image.
4) The rise of urban gaming
Little known to the general public, Ingress (the game on which Pokemon Go is based) was the first to geolocation in what is called “urban gaming”. If its popularity were limited to a very geeky circle, this game, also developed by Google through its subsidiary Niantic, is able to mix urban reality with game mechanics. A real novelty that resulted in many covers including: Battleparis, City Domination, Geocaching…
Pokémon Go has made urban gaming possible thanks to a strong and unified brand, a mechanism that’s easy to learn, and all for free (or on a freemium model).
The premise of urban gaming’s revolving, would sports have been such a big buzz in the middle of winter? Probably not… Launched just after the start of summer, the era when all excuses to go out are good, launch timing is anything but a coincidence…
5) A well prepared field
If the “discussion” always seems to be the result of coincidence, there is often a marketing strategy behind it. Pokemon is no exception to the rule as the company has had 20 years of solidifying its brand and can modernize and adapt to its goals.
Beyond the task of modernizing its brand (advertising during the Super Bowl, using augmented reality, etc.), Pokémon has established a rework on its historical goal. If it was earlier oriented towards children and teens, then for Pokémon Go they preferred to target millennials who have already experienced this phenomenon and have more purchasing power than teenagers.
Advertisement for 20 Years of Pokémon airing during the Super Bowl in February 2016.
Once launched, with no need for communication, the game exudes an incredible excitement that is independent and collectively self-sustaining. Beyond the vast amount of content and memes on the web, the media has been able to add a vast number of strangely diverse facts and thus take advantage of a lighter theme in this turbulent international context:
Brands also haven’t deprived themselves of this golden opportunity to do newsjacking by surfing this hot topic to create visibility into the affinity with their brand:
Niantic’s big challenge is to make its game last over time… Two paths will be critical for this:
- Complete the game without making it too complicated so that it remains mainstream. This is what King has been doing with Candy Crush for 4 years: renewing itself while being accessible;
- Establish a win-win business model with points of sale. While it can be interesting for a physical outlet to attract more people to your store (rare Pokémon? Specific Pokestops? Arena?), it’s also a good way to get an extra relay of incentive to play Pokémon Go…
If the event can’t maintain this intensity over time, chances are you’ll hear about it in the coming months, or even years…