Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you will have heard about Pokémon GO. People of all ages can be seen walking around the streets and stopping their cars on the side of the road as they discover and catch Pokémon, collect items at Pokéstops and conquer gyms.
Still don’t know what it’s about? Find the nearest tired-looking person who’s glued to their cellphone and ask them to explain.
The game, which was released on July 6 in the US, Australia and New Zealand, has already been downloaded more than 65 million times. And users aren’t just downloading the app, they’re extremely active on it.
On July 8, just two days after its release, the app was being used for an average of 43 minutes and 23 seconds a day by users. That’s more time spent catching Pokémon than using other popular apps Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat or Messenger. And there have been some very real results for Nintendo. It's valuation has increased by an estimated $7.5 billion thanks to the app.
In addition, even Niantic Labs, the app’s creators, were caught by surprise with their servers struggling to keep up with demand. Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke spent more than 20 years working on perfecting what eventually led to Pokémon GO.
He was involved in Google Maps, Earth and Street View before deciding to create GPS-based games. In 2014, an April Fools’ Day joke was created which allowed viewers to find Pokémon creatures on Google maps. This was such a massive success that Hanke realised it could become a game.
A walk in the park becomes fun
Hanke writes on the Niantic blog: “We’re excited that Pokémon fans and gamers can now start exploring their very own neighborhoods and cities to capture Pokémon using the Pokémon GO app.
“Players can discover and catch more than 100 Pokémon from the original Red and Blue games, take Pokémon into battle against other Pokémon at Gyms, uncover items including a variety of types of Poké Balls and eggs at PokéStops, hatch and train new Pokémon, and more.
“Players can explore the world and play the game while keeping their attention on the people and sites around them. A walk in the park just became more fun. We can’t wait to hear about the adventures around the world that Pokémon trainers undertake. It’s GO time!”
Importance of nostalgia
Gary Vaynerchuk – marketer, entrepreneur, investor and author – says he’s a believer in nostalgic intellectual property.
“It is one of the most underrated value propositions in business and marketing. Nostalgic IP matters and it’s valuable and massively underpriced. While it’s not nostalgic for me personally, Pokémon just celebrated it’s 20th anniversary so you can easily see why it hits that 25- to 35-year-old demographic.
“Pokémon GO plays off of nostalgia, which is a huge draw in app culture. It taps into emotions and storytelling that gives that brand a foot into the door of their consumers’ hearts.
“You can be doing everything wrong for quite a while and then you do something right and it changes your entire narrative.”
Opportunity for small business owners
This could be a huge opportunity for small business owners. If you own a business where Pokémon are hiding, don’t turn their hunters away. Rather encourage them to come inside. There have been a number of reports about revenue soaring at local coffee shops and pizza joints which have encouraged the playing of Pokémon GO inside their stores.
In addition, you can buy an item called a “Lure Module” inside the game which attracts Pokémon to a particular PokeStop for 30 minutes. Use this to attract foot traffic and encourage Pokémon GO players to buy your products by offering discounts or special deals.
An important takeaway of this new craze? It’s getting people outside and interacting with others. And that’s never a bad thing.
Image: Niantic Labs