Was that title a bit of an exaggeration? Perhaps. Pokemon Go hasn’t been officially released in parts of Europe, Asia, or even Canada yet, after all.
Almost a year ago, I wrote about how Pokemon Go marks a change in Nintendo’s reluctant shift to mobile, and this shift in strategy is paying big dividends. Nintendo’s stock price has surged 25% in the days following Pokemon Go’s USA release even though it technically doesn’t own the product; Niantic, a San Francisco company that spun out of Google, created Pokemon Go in collaboration with Nintendo’s own spun-off the Pokemon Company. The app itself is both #1 in downloads and #1 in revenue generation.
Pokemon Go’s gameplay mechanics are fairly simple: find Pokemon, catch Pokemon, explore the world. What’s remarkable is that you explore the real world, augmented with Pokemon; thanks to a Google Maps overlay, your avatar treads the earth as you do in real-time, and the Augmented Reality features allow you to find Pokemon lounging in your life, from a nearby park or beach to the comfort of your house.
People young and old are playing Pokemon Go, uniting random strangers, the last of the ’90s kids, and new generations. The app’s success certainly isn’t in its seamless gameplay mechanics – the app still crashes if open too long, and the servers keep getting overloaded by demand. The incredible popularity draws on nostalgia, and every kid’s dream: finding Pokemon in real life.
On a business perspective, the monetization strategy of Pokemon Go is not only successful right from the start, but open to several different avenues down the line. The freemium model allows players to purchase several useful items, such as incense that attracts more Pokemon to your location. Since other businesses are profiting off of the game’s popularity by fortuitously being located at or near “Pokestops” (places where a player can obtain items in-game), it’s completely possible that Niantic could create temporary Pokestops for a fee from businesses.
Whether you think Pokemon Go is a passing fad or the biggest revolutionary step into Augmented Reality the world has ever seen, the fact remains that its overwhelming popularity as of current cannot be ignored.