A year ago today, at approximately 10am, the game which had already smashed records in the US, became available to download in the UK. At the early stage of its launch, Pokémon Go was being downloaded at a never before seen speed. It had more daily users than Twitter in the US in the week following its launch, and attracted more engagement than Facebook. Igniyte reviews the highs and lows of the game and what its success means for legacy brands and mobile technologies.
Before looking at 365 days in Poké-land, it’s interesting to revise and review the history of the game. After all, this is the second generation of the Pokémon craze, following the Nintendo game and playing cards from the mid-to-late 1990s.
It’s this which gave the game a key strength, as millennial users have already gone ‘Poké mad’ once before when the Japanese pocket monsters launched during their childhoods in the form of cards and on Gameboy, a now obsolete games console.
In this most-millennium, interconnected world, Pokémon Go involves catching Pokémon characters in the real world. The game uses a combination of Google Maps data and augmented reality (AR) so that players are able to see characters from the game appear in their homes, offices and schools by looking through their smartphones.
Over the year, this feature has impacted the wider technological landscape and the uses of AR, with industry leaders noting Pokémon Go as a pioneering platform to driving successes with this technology on mobile devices.
Rise and Fall
After its launch last July, daily users and media coverage dropped rapidly with many asking simply what happened to Pokémon Go? As reported in News Australia, the app, which was generating $16m USD daily in August ’16 declined to pull in $2m just two months later with a more dramatic reduction in downloads.
A combination of factors including the wealth of glitches and crashes in the early launch stages as severs struggled to cope with demand, to limited communication from manufactures Niantic have been blamed here. Critics have speculated that the game received more attention than developers had ever imagined. Unable to satisfy the demand – either though communication of technical stability – many users quickly returned to the real world. Of course, it’s also a fair assessment that, after going viral, people became bored with the game after the media buzz died down – a feat King discovered with the decline of Candy Crush.
Success for Nintendo
Nintendo is a key stakeholder within the entire Pokémon franchise as Pokémon games are created, almost exclusively, for Nintendo’s hand-held games consoles and have been since their launch in 1996. Despite a decline in users, what can’t be denied is how Pokémon Go put Nintendo back on the international map with consumers as a real contender in the games market.
This year, the company has successfully launched the Nintendo Switch console, it’s first since 2012. Buoyed on by the viral sensation, this is a rare reputation turnaround for the company which was facing a difficult and uncertain future not too long in the past.
Ultimately, Pokémon Go is a key case study for established brands in understanding their market and capturing the imagination – and nostalgia – of its core consumers.
In 12 months, the prospect of AR in the smartphone arena has been reignited, asking the question who will be next to cause a global ‘must-have’ explosion – and will we have to catch ‘em all??