Behind the phenomenon: Pokémon Go

No. You didn’t travel back in time. The last time you even thought about Pokémon, you were most likely a decade younger and had never even dreamed of the digital world we live in today. But now, its 2016 and Nintendo’s Pokémon has taken the world by storm yet again.

In 1995, Nintendo created Pokémon. The Pokémon games allowed players to act as if they were trainers whose main goal was to catch Pokémon. The trainers could catch Pokémon by throwing a Poké ball at the characters. By collecting as many Pokémon as they can and training them to defeat other Pokémon teams, the trainer can go on to win the Pokémon League. The concept was widely successful with its fans. The franchise includes video games, trading cards, comic books, television shows and movies.

Pokémon has advanced from the cards you collected as a young child and has emerged in the new digital age. Nintendo launched the Pokémon Go app in July of 2016 and was an immediate success.

So why has the Pokémon Go app been so successful? Essentially, it has re-imagined the original game for smartphone users. It not only reaches its old audience of gamers, but new mobile gamers as well. The app uses Augmented Reality which allows users to walk around their real-life setting and collect the virtual Pokémon on their phones. Then, after the characters have been collected, the users can compete against their friends.

Because of the nature of the game, Pokémon Go also capitalizes on the recent fitness craze that has recently taken over digital apps. Apps like Fitbit have been widely successful because they encourage you to get moving. When hunting for Pokémon characters, you actually have to go out and look for them. This requires users to get up off of the couch and go search for the characters.

By recreating the old classic with a new real-life spin, Pokémon Go has been wildly successful. According to SimilarWeb, the app could overtake Twitter for the number of daily active users.

As digital professionals, what can we learn from Pokémon Go?

  1. We need to know that it’s never too late to re-vamp our brand. Pokémon has been around for over 20 years, yet changed their product for the digital age and is capitalizing on its success.
  2. It’s important to remember that the digital landscape is ever evolving and as professionals in the field, it’s our responsibility to keep up with it. From apps that encourage physical moving to the use of augmented reality, Pokémon Go epitomizes all of the qualities that makes a digital gaming app successful.
  3. Remember, that users like to be social. The game allows users to take pictures of the augmented reality. For instance, this is why you’ve seen your social media marketing timelines taken over by pictures of your friends with Pokémon creatures. This has added to the success and growth of the app.

So while you’re not outside trying to “catch them all,” remember to learn a few lessons from the success of the game.

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Marli Harrelson recently moved to the Tampa area after graduating from The University of Alabama with a degree in Communication and Information Sciences. When she’s not on social media, she’s traveling, eating or watching college football.