When I left last week for vacation, everything was in its place. The garage door was closed, the AC was off, and the neighborhood was safe. Being mostly unplugged for seven days, I had no knowledge of the pandemic that had hit my wonderful state and country. When my plane landed, I saw multiple news headlines about Pokémon, but I still had no idea what was happening.
As a member of the millennial generation, I am one of the few to have avoided Pokémon in my youth, but Nintendo has definitely caught lightning in a bottle with its first augmented reality (AR) offering. People my age who once loved Pokémon are latching on to the nostalgia and passing it on to the children they now have.
Neighborhoods are filled with hordes of children staring at smartphones and walking around aimlessly trying to “catch them all.” It’s also a boon for local businesses that are lucky enough to have a rare Pokémon or battleground near their locations.
When I got back to my office on Monday, I even saw coworkers who were walking around trying to catch Pokémon. When I saw that grown men and women were catching the Pokémon fever too, I couldn’t help but think of a Seinfeld bit:
“So, I go to the bathroom in the airport. What is the story on the sinks in airport bathrooms that they will not give us a twist-it-on twist-it-off, human-style faucet? … What is it they think we would do with a faucet? Turn them all on full, run out into the parking lot, laughing, pushing each other into the bushes?
“Come on, the water’s on, let’s go!”
“I turned it on full blast.”
“You idiot! We’re businessmen, we’re gonna miss our plane.”
“Who cares! Water!”
That’s how they think we’re gonna act.”
Breaking Down the Pokémon Passion
So, the app has more users now than Tinder? What does that actually mean? Well, keep reading!
Nintendo FTW (for the win)!
The gaming company has lagged behind in the mobile department, but the value that’s been added to the company in the last week is unmistakable. Daily social mentions of Pokémon are nearing 500k, according to Adobe Digital Index, with the peak hours falling between 12–2:00 pm and 7–8:00 pm.
Could this prove to be the next revenue stream for gaming? The $20+ billion industry is one of the fastest growing in the world and is even becoming a legitimized sport that you can watch on ESPN. AR provides the next opportunity to catch the attention of the casual gamer who may not want to invest in an Xbox and headset but is more than willing to use his or her phone for gaming entertainment. If this means a broad release of more nostalgic games, I am all for it — Zelda Go, anyone?
Artificial Reality Becoming More Mainstream?
AR and VR (virtual reality) have been taking the world by storm. Both have been slow to full adoption, but Pokémon Go could be the first true hit game to launch these technologies in to mainstream. Most VR headsets are still above the price threshold for the average household, but with mobile already in the hands of most of the world, mobile AR could be a good entry point for these new technologies.
Mobile Is Alive and Well!
The immense power of AR on a mobile device is demonstrated by the growth of Pokémon Go. The potential for mobile marketing to the Pokémon Go audience is enormous. Should it prove to be more than a fad, it could become the next segment of influencer marketing that retail companies look to integrate in to their marketing plans. Small businesses should immediately latch on to the lure functionality of Pokémon and provide purchasable Pokémon items at their locations. It’s also not hard to see a future advertising-revenue stream for Nintendo in which a local business pays a nominal fee to have a rare Pokémon appear in its store.
For those of you still wondering which team to join, according to Adobe Digital Index — with over 43 percent of the share — Team Mystic is currently in the lead for social mentions since its release, followed by Team Valor and then Team Instinct.
In the end, Pokémon Go may prove to last as short of a time as the card game did in the mid ‘90s, but it’s hard to argue against the currently engaged audience potential for any business that could market to its users. As for me, I probably won’t be one of the many getting in car crashes over the game, but I may start working on my augmented reality and Pokémon Go marketing certifications — just in case.