The Go in Pokemon

The release of the new smart phone application game – Nintendo’s Pokemon Go has swept the world in less than two weeks and seen the share price of Nintendo increased by 50%, reported by BBC. In the U.S, it quickly became the biggest mobile game in history, as measured by daily active users. Indeed, it’s impossible not to notice the presence of both Pokemons everywhere or the catchers, as well as the media attention it has generated, be it updated articles daily around the ‘net, radio, TV, news paper or hearing your real/virtual friends talking about it. The week before, the president of Israel even found one is his office and dutifully announced on on his twitter account. On the other hand, the frenzy has sparked debates on whether this game is improving people’s physical as well as mental healthy, or may post a safety concern. Here in Hong Kong and other regions where the game has not been officially released, people are desperately waiting.

Suddenly it got crazy

pikaHow did it happen? Or What happened? At a first glance this seems like an anti-marketing phenomena as there had been no advertising prior to the launch,  reminding us Beyoncé’s straight to iTunes album “Beyoncé” 2013 with no prior promotion at all.  Nevertheless the album was a huge success and re-firmed Beyoncé’s role as the leader in this industry rather than the follower.  Product release with no public promotion has demonstrated that it can be an alternative yet powerful marketing strategy, and a detailed analysis using SWOT will unfold the success of such marketing strategy relies on in-depth understanding of the market as well as the company’s own position. The result will demonstrate that the release of Pokeman-go is on the contrary carefully planned and exemplary of marketing planning.

A Corporate Marketing Strategy was in place.. but did we see it?

In Marketing, SWOT analysis provides a way of monitoring the external and internal marketing environment of a company.

SWOT

The Strength of an established brand

Although Pokemon Go is a new game, Pokeman needs not be introduced to the public. The collection of virtual monsters on a hand held device was conceived and implemented through a Nintendo Gameboy 20 years ago . It was a worldwide sensation and Nintendo’s Marketing department capitalized and extend the theme to comic books, card games, movies and of course the widely popularized mascot plush toys.

The already extremely well established brand and product awareness and reputation over its video game competitors is the pre-condition of the immediate recognition and acceptance from its original and new customers for Pokemon Go without specific product promotion beforehand.

Nintendo is a big company and they have the resources to develop new big-budget products which can be sold for free to the customers and have its revenue via advertising or investments.

Weakness of smart phone presence

Despite its world success in mind 1980s, Nintendo has experienced a decrease in market share since the NES .. Its last best-seller Wii started to be taken over by Microsoft Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation. Nintendo’s latest portable device 3DS uses outdated technology and its games do not have the world-wide appeal people who are favoring games supported by smartphone technologies like Angry Birds, Candy Crush and Clash of Clans.

Nintendo had backed too much on their stand-alone portable gaming devices.  It has fallen behind  from its smartphone competitors both in game complexity and innovation.

Opportunity: The world of Go go go

In 2014, Google’s April fools’ day prank youtube video featuring a Pokeman challenge in reality went viral, revealing the yearning/fantasy from the public to live and catch pocket monsters in real life..

A small software company Nintrac, saw this as a market opportunity and convinced Nintendo to go for it.  Two years later. a sophisticated and mature smart phone game taking advantage of the developed technology of augmented reality and camera censor was created.

It didn’t take long for Customers to hear about it. Like the viral video,  to be a “Pokemon master” was in the for many dreams, including the adults.  The essential ‘Go’ part of the game requires one to move around between real location and navigating through cities celebrates the classical fun part of a game and the increasing demand of having an active lifestyle.  The latter market trend sees an discouragement of overly engaging with immobile games such as World of Warcraft.

Commercial opportunities and product exposure also exists.  Pokeman Go’s partnership with other established franchise such Mcdonald through sponsored location is a marketing strategy for both companies, which meets both the craving of the gamer mentally and physically. According to Financial Review, such liaison sees even a surge of price in Mcdonald’s share

A small software company Nintrac, saw this as an opportunity and convinced Nintendo to go for it.  Two years later. a sophisticated and mature smart phone technology developed using augemented reality was created.

It didn’t take long for Customers to hear about it. Like the viral video,  to be a “Pokemon master” was in the for many dreams, including the adults.  The aspect of the game requires one to move around between real location and navigating through the cities is an ultimate game celebrating the classical game fun and the spirit of ‘Go.’ It can be marketed as healthy and active lifestyle, seeing an discouragement of overly engaging with immobile games such as World of Warcraft.

Commerical opportunities and product explosure can also exists.  Partnership with other established franchise such Macdonald through sponsored location is a marketing strategy for both companies, which meets both the craving of the gamer mentally and physically.

All good things come with threats

So far Nintendo has managed it well. Its choice of releasing without promotion essentially prevented the advertisements as an impetus for other potential copiers. Though there is still a not-to-be neglected issue of future copycats.

Such threat can be mitigated through close monitoring of the marketing movement and staying ahead at the marketing research. As certain product naturally has a shorter lifespan, it does not stop the company from diversifying it, and even use the possibilities that have been opened up for more new opportunities.

In addition to the above issue, there have been criticisms and concerns on the safety of the game due to reports on accidents caused by the reduced alertness to one’s surrounding.

Hybrid Pricing/ profit earning model. As the application itself is free to chase maximum market coverage.  The profit is in fact derived from other channel, including sponsoring business (eg: Mcdonald)

What we though was a joke was really just preparing us for Pokemon Go.

We would be thinking back to this day if we will need to rewrite the playbook of corporate strategy playbook.  Nintendo’s strength of its loyal fanbase of the Pokemon brand, weakness being offset by some clever partnerships with Google and Nintrac. The opportunity are only matched by the speed by their rollout to other regions of the world. Threats need to be addressed but given the already responsive nature of Nintendo we can see this be caught like a Pokemon.

Hope you had a great time reading this. For me, I will be off playing Pokemon Go.

Posted by Justin Wong 215296673 (jgwong)

 


 

AllChinaTech, 2016, Pokémon GO beware: the Chinese copycats are sucking fans, retrieved 25 July, http://www.allchinatech.com/pokemon-go-beware-the-chinese-copycats-are-sucking-fans/

BBC News, 2016, Nintendo shares up more than 50% since Pokemon Go release, retrieved 25 Jul 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36791275

Bulbapedia, 2016, History of Pokémon, retrived 22 July 2016, http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/History_of_Pok%C3%A9mon

CBCNews, 2016, Pokemon Go: How a Google prank spawned a mobile gaming phenomenon, retrieved 23 July 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/pokemon-google-origins-1.3690769

Iacobucci, D 2013, MM4 Marketing Management, 6th Edition, Cengage Learning, Mason USA.

Lewis, L 2016, ‘Nintendo boosted as Pokemania hits home, p,10 FT Weekend, UK

Philip Kotler, Kevin Lane Keller, 2015, Marketing Management, 15e Edition, Pearson Education, USA

Tech Inside, 2016, One simple chart shows that Nintendo’s been on the decline since the NES, retrieved 25 July 2016, http://www.techinsider.io/nintendos-30-year-hardware-decline-2016-4

The Guardian, 2016, Pokémon Go: armed robbers use mobile game to lure players into trap, retrieved 25 July, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/10/pokemon-go-armed-robbers-dead-body

Twitter, 2016, There is no stopping this: #Pokemon ‘invade’ Israeli president’s office, retrieved 25 July 2016, https://twitter.com/RT_com/status/753404919625854976

Vulture, 2013, Beyoncé Just Dropped an Album With No Warning, retrieved 25 July 2016, http://www.vulture.com/2013/12/beyonce-surprise-album.html

 

 

 

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