What is Pokémon Go? Why is it so popular? Is it brilliant marketing or pure luck? Let’s find out!
Levelling up, collecting stardust, candy, and Poké coins, evolving Pokémon, hatching eggs and battling in gymnasiums. Sounds confusing, right? Put simply, the objective of Pokémon Go is to collect as many different Pokémon characters as you can, power them up, then battle with other gamers at virtual locations called Pokémon gyms. The superior Pokémon wins and the victorious gamer emerges as Pokémon master. Well, until they are mercilessly defeated. Check out this trailer!
Who said you can’t teach an old Pokémon new tricks?
Pokémon has been a brand bonanza for Nintendo for over 20 years. The trifecta of nostalgia, cuteness and competition has kept it alive for kids as well as the young at heart. Nintendo’s core strength is console gaming, but it’s a dying breed. Fun retro-factor aside, if Nintendo aren’t careful, they could become an irrelevant player. Product innovation is their must-win battle.
Enter Niantic – Google spin off, Pokémon Go’s game developer and Nintendo’s saviour. Their collective strategy was to exploit new market opportunities through the diversification of the existing brand of Pokémon. It has clearly paid off.
(Iacobucci 2013, p.212).
So real, it’s unreal!
Central to Pokémon Go’s interactive user experience is augmented reality, integrating Pokémon Go with Google maps and the camera functions of a smart device. This technology is set to become the new frontier in online gaming, leaving other formats behind to eat Pokémon’s stardust!
To get the idea, check out this Poké stop I snapped at the LB building entrance of Deakin’s Burwood campus!
It’s all in the planning
Pokémon Go displays all the signs of a well-executed marketing plan. We can see this by referencing the marketing framework to the apparent marketing strategy behind Pokémon Go.
(Iacobucci 2013, p.6)
Nintendo have been in the gaming business long enough to know who their customers are and what they like. But they must continually and carefully interpret the trends to future-proof their business. The context of gaming is changing. Nowadays, tech-savvy consumers demand sophisticated gaming applications on convenient devices, such as smartphones. Fortunately for Nintendo Pokémon Go has delivered in spades thanks to a strategic partnership with Niantic, Google and Apple. It is a unique collaboration that has produced an exceptional gaming innovation.
Pokémon Go participates in a dynamic marketplace with many competitors. Rival games, social media, books, movies, TV, sports, music, you name it. They all contend for our leisure time and Pokémon Go has grabbed its fair share! Pokémon Go’s target market is predominantly 18-34 year olds, but anyone with a smart device is fair game.
Nintendo ran a clever, minimalist, yet highly effective promotional campaign for Pokémon Go. Since releasing a teaser trailer last year not a single advertising dollar has been spent. After Niantic launched Pokémon Go via a single tweet, news of the game spread like a virus, through word of mouth and social media. Traditional media channels couldn’t keep up.
Constraining the game to an initial launch in Australia, New Zealand and the United States further increased the hype. It also bought Niantic the time needed to resolve technical issues before further country roll outs. Besides a meagre introduction upon first play, there is no published information to help gamers deal with the many intricacies of game play. They either have to figure it out themselves, or turn to an abundant supply of training videos created by other gamers, posted on YouTube or web forums. This alliance of such a community of global trouble shooters will surely stimulate brand loyalty. Is this a decisive marketing ploy? Likely. Ingenious? Absolutely!
In just five days after launch, Pokémon Go added 11 billion dollars (a 63.7% increase) to Nintendo’s valuation. At the time of writing, the game is valued at 29 billion dollars and generates 1.6 million dollars per day for its creators. This figure is expected to increase dramatically thanks to further expansion, in-app purchasing and advertising, and other commercial opportunities such as Poké stop subscriptions by businesses keen to lure Poké customers!
(S&P Capital IQ, 2016)
Happy days, but are they here to stay?
While there is much to get excited about, this resurrection tale could end badly. Nintendo’s share value used to be triple its current worth.
(S&P Capital IQ, 2016)
Niantic are off and running, but Nintendo must take advantage of this market capitalisation, stocking their pipeline with more innovative and exciting products and exploring new market opportunities.
Pokémon Go may have taken the crush out of Candy crush, but can it evolve and hatch a new generation of success for Nintendo? Let’s hope so. Otherwise it might just be game over.
Student ID: 216216378
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Ross, D 2016, entrance to LB building – actual view, own photo taken 23 July 2016.
Ross, D 2016, entrance to LB building – Pokemon Go view, own photo taken 23 July 2016.