03 Aug 2016
Lessons from pokemon

The Big Lessons From Pokemon Go (You Aren’t Talking About)

Almost every writer has jumped on the Pokemon Go bandwagon, but few have moved beyond level one (hype) of the world’s fastest growing idea ever. With that in mind, here as some takeouts you probably aren’t sick of hearing about the craze.

This Is A Breakthrough Moment. 

The internet is awash with posts that simply gush about the marketing potential of AR based on the game’s massive success and growth. The challenge is that the technology on show here simply isn’t that good. (There are many better examples of mixed reality apps, plus some pretty groundbreaking stuff coming soon from companies like MagicLeap and Imersia.)

Pokemon Go’s breakthrough demonstrates how activating a pop culture tribe can carry an idea quickly beyond the tipping point. As one of the millions who grew up exposed to the trading card and Nintendo versions of the game, the idea of catching Pokemon never lived up to the experience depicted in the animated TV series. Quite simply, the promise of really flinging a Pokeball at a Bulbasaur was just too good to pass up, especially when it was just a couple of clicks away on our handheld devices.

The challenge is not for companies to rush out and start building or delivering AR experiences, but to work out how they can get a large enough group engaged to make things truly take off. Google Glass offered a much more immersive and extensible AR overlay to the world, but high prices and focus on early adopters  meant the company never got past influencers.  Google may have created noise and reach, but their “Glasstronauts” ended up instead as “Glassholes”. WPP’s recently released findings emphasised the importance of second-tier influencers on online video spread, and I think it’s fair to expect the logic to hold up with mixed reality and most of social.

Using a latent tribe to burst past early adoption into the mainstream is, for me, the key innovation in Pokemon Go.

Being Able To Recognise A Moment Isn’t The Same As Being Able To Leverage One. 

There is much talk in marketing about the power of moments and the unreasonable returns available to brands. Oreo’s Superbowl moment created a legend in marketing that will live on long after the last biscuit in the packet is dunked.

The problem with big moments is that everyone else can recognise them too. This creates even more noise and confusion around your audience, and they already had too much before you started. Pizza places, pubs, and even museums are doing a great job of leveraging the increased footfall past their locations with custom offers. Packing your next speech (or blog post) with references to appear down with the kids is unlikely to have the same impact.

Marketers of all walks need to balance a desire to leverage the moments created by others with creating moments of their own. The intoxicating scale of the audience is easy to get excited by, but being present without making an impact is pretty much the same as not having been there at all.

Mark Ritson Is Probably Right, The Game Is A Fad. 

The gameplay isn’t as sticky or extensible as click bait platforms like Candy Crush Saga or Clash of Clans. The battle interface is underwhelming for anyone that grew up on console gaming. There’s an absence of a shared experience (on-demand battles between friends, a third party viewing experience or even simple trading perhaps?) and the habit-based lives of most humans limit the number of species the average player can catch. All this detracts from the experience.

The fickle attention of the masses will surely shift, so while you should absolutely buy a lure module for your cafe today, if you are looking at taking a lease on one over a five-year term – I have a bridge out my window I’d love to sell you.

The Internet Demands Scale. 

It seems as though Niantic, the game’s publisher, was wholly unprepared for the popularity of the game and is often unable to handle the customer service loads around changes and glitches in the game. The average rating on iOS has fallen sharply since the last update.

Ensuring your idea can handle 800 million concurrent users is a distant dream for many, but making use of advances in scaling infrastructure could save you plenty of angst as an idea grows and ensures you can make the most of any spike, while also making sure you don’t have to use the Kevin Costner strategy and build it so they will come.poketrails

Nobody Reads The Terms of Service Or Articles About What You’ve Given Up. 

Stories flooded the web at the launch of the app after Adam Reeve noticed that users were giving the pretty much every piece of access imaginable to the game’s creators. The outcry did little to stop the masses from signing up. Even with amendments to the ToS, users are still delivering a wealth of geodata to the games creators.

If you’re interested in actually being aware of what info you are bleeding online, this infographic is a pretty great place to start especially for those of you chuckling because you didn’t download a copy of Go!


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