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Pokemon being put in its place!

Pokemon Go seems to be all I’m hearing at the minute, so I gave in and downloaded it. I’ve never played Pokemon before, so for me there’s none of the nostalgia that surrounds the game that originally launched back in 1996 on the Nintendo Game Boy (do you remember them?)

Just in case your memory is a little foggy, this is what it looked like…

Original Game Boy

The game, with Japanese origins, has launched various versions on whatever console Nintendo were pushing at the time, but 20 years after launching and now in its seventh generation, Pokemon has moved off the Nintendo consoles and into our pockets!

Pokemon Go is an augmented reality take on the game where, using your phone’s GPS location data, you hunt and catch Pokemon to train and fight.

So having downloaded the app and created my character I had a view of my office. What’s that I see – I Bulbasaur in our office?! I grabbed my Pokeball and lobbed it in his general direction – boom, caught him!

Hunting for Pokemon

Time to get out and find me some more, as the strapline suggests: “Gotta catch ‘em all!”. Apparently The Blackpool Tower is a Pokemon Gym, so once I reach ‘level 5’ I’m going to head there – maybe I’ll battle another trainers Pokemon during the circus interval?

So how much of a big deal is Pokemon Go? Latest stats suggest the app has been downloaded more than 7.5 million times and average daily users (in the US) have surpassed dating app Tinder and is catching up to Twitter.

Augmented reality in Pokemon Go

So what can we learn from the rapid rise to success of Pokemon Go?

Simplicity is key for growth and retention

As I already mentioned, I had never played a Pokemon game in my life, but within a matter of minutes I had created my character and caught my first Pokemon. The simplicity of the game-play makes it accessible to both veterans and novices alike, and that is so important. Good User Experience is vital, a well-designed website or app that is simple to use will inevitably see an increase in customer acquisition and retention.

Huge advertising campaigns aren’t always necessary

I don’t recall seeing any advertising for the new app, however my social feeds are full of people talking about it, sharing content and asking for tips on where to go next. There has been no TV advertising and a serious lack of traditional marketing and yet the app became the top-grossing app on iOS within a day of its US release and has brought in an estimated $1m in daily net revenue!

It goes to show the importance of word of mouth, social media and customer engagement; especially when combined with cutting edge innovation and of course, a strong brand.

Which brings me neatly on to my final point

Branding is everything

The game creators, Niantic previously released a game called Ingress. Ever heard of it? Me either. This game also used mapping technology and players interact with the game through augmented reality. There are a number of similarities between the two games; in fact some of the same mapped points found on Ingress have been converted to PokeStops and Gyms! So why was one relatively unknown and the other a huge success? Branding. The Pokemon brand has been established for 20 years, the design, quality and game play of the brand are so strong that it has thrust this app straight to the top.

John Filmer is an Account Manager, Snapchat addict and creative thinker at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

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