What would you sacrifice to catch a Mew?
The Pokémon Go revolution is here. In the space of two weeks, Pokémon has gone from a millennial rite of passage to the most talked-about game since Skyrim.
It’s a strange thing seeing ‘real’ grown-ups in suits playing Pokémon during my morning commute, or seeing Pokémon hunting groups being bombarded by water balloons. I’m constantly bemused by the zombie-shuffle that Pokémon hunters have adopted as they wander from one street to the next.
Image source: Rebellion.Nerdfitness
Give a little, get a little
I’ve got to hand it to the team at Alphabet and Niantic. If anyone could bring augmented reality to the masses (and have users volunteer all their personal information in the process), it would be them. They’ve hit the trifecta: gamification, childhood nostalgia and platform agnosticism. Not only has this led to skyrocketing stockprices for Nintendo, but they’ve perfectly encapsulated what it means for something to go viral IRL (check out the Google Trends results below if you still have doubts).
As a digital marketer, I’m constantly amazed at how much information people are willing to give up in order to access free and easily-accessible tools (even if my consumer self is a little concerned). Pokémon Go players are required to sign-in with their Google accounts, which means advertisers are able to access information through the players’ Gmail inboxes, YouTube activity and Google Play purchases, meaning more targeted ads, more often.
Will it be a game-changer?
Pokémon Go will undoubtedly go from strength to strength, but what I’ll remember it by most is how it brought augmented reality to the masses. Though L’Oréal’s make-up magic app was hailed by marketers as a breakthrough (followed quickly by social juggernaut Snapchat and its ever-changing filters), but what these failed to do is get people addicted to the same extent. There’s only so many dog-filtered selfies you can send before people start to judge you.
Image source: kylizzlemynizzl Snapchat.
The game took a behaviour we’re already used to (in other words, being perpetually glued to your phone) and took it to the next level. This is where devices such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, Oculus VR and Samsung Gear could fall down, as the clunky hardware and hardcore gaming associations act as a stumbling block to widespread use.
Rise of the machines
If you think augmented reality has got virtual reality beat, I’d say it’s too early to tell. The unprecedented success of Pokémon Go is the best thing VR developers could ask for – to change user behaviour so that by the time VR launches, the legwork’s been done. It’s reinforced that gaming’s status is a socially acceptable hobby, and one which millennials haven’t quite had their fill of yet.
So what do I think all this could mean for marketers?
1. UX (and by extension, gamification) = key.
2. Personalised, location-based tactics FTW.
3. Augmented reality is paving the way for mass adoption of virtual reality.
Pokémon Go is a breakthrough for game developers, augmented reality and virtual reality. It’s going to shake up the industry and impact how marketers attract and target audiences.
Full disclosure: I guest-edited the Australian edition of the Official Nintendo Magazine in a previous life. I’m honestly amazed at what Pokémon Go has achieved and can’t wait to see what comes next.