It’s no secret that Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm.
Since its release back on July 6th in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, the game has since expanded to six other countries. The number of active players has risen to an estimated 21 million daily users, and it’s rumored that the game may come to India as early as next month. This type of phenomenon has affected not only the entertainment world but also the global economy. Quite simply, it is an unprecedented event in the modern, digital era.
Pokémon Go’s pre-established brand reputation has aided in its efforts. As the modern trend of rebooting and retooling has had its effects in film and television, so too has it extended to the gaming world and gaming app development. Established franchises like Doom and Tomb Raider have had reformatted games released in recent years, and have largely been well-received. The Pokémon franchise, whose roots go back as far as 1995, has now managed to similarly release a new installment. This has further built upon its previously-established brand name and nostalgia from a largely young demographic. And such a demographic is feeding into its popularity. Indeed, the game is on track to become bigger than Snapchat, one of the most popular mobile apps for millennials. Turns out, there is an ever-ready market for a mobile app like Pokemon Go.
The effects of this monumental event have reverberated through the realms of marketing and design strategy as well. As is true with every product/service that develops a vibrant user base, a strong and multifaceted relationship with the customer is key. Previously unforeseen factors have further strengthened this notion and added in Pokémon Go’s remarkable success. Brand name, nostalgia, and recreation are all factors, but the topic of mobile customer engagement within the game is critical when it comes to developing a mobile app like Pokemon Go.
What can we learn from this extraordinary event, and how can use this knowledge to aid with customer engagement on a mobile platform?
Adding Gamification to the Experience
Part of Pokémon Go’s allure is how it utilizes the concept of augmented reality, along with geolocation features. This creates a fictitious, virtual “environment” based on the real world. This gamification of a preexisting reality leads to an engaging atmosphere for the customer (which is absolutely critical in this age of digital transformation). Within this framework, the user is able to interact with his or her surroundings in a fun way, without a developer having to take the time or resources to construct a fully artificial environment in order to develop an app like Pokemon Go.
Players are encouraged to traverse their neighborhood in order to avail themselves of different Pokémon, badges, and other accolades within the Pokémon universe. This is a mainstay of the franchise or any mobile app like Pokemon Go. Usage of awards within the game encourages continued use and enhances the concept of gamification. Unlike the stereotype of gamers being sedentary or antisocial, Pokémon Go users actively travel around their environment. This establishes a unique connection between the real world with the virtual one—the player is interacting with a virtual world, yet doing so by exploring their actual surroundings, something previously unheard of in gaming app development.
Access to a Widespread Demographic
Using a mobile phone as a gaming platform has been in place for decades. There are vastly more mobile users than owners of video game systems such as PlayStation 4 or Xbox One (over one billion users in India alone). More accessible—and more affordable—hardware/software equals a larger user base. This increases the number of those who have access to your service, as well as your opportunities to profit off of such a number. All this has facilitated the rise of the mobile game app development companies as more and more businesses are now looking to develop an app like PokemonGo.
The developer Supercell, who created Clash of Clans and Boom Beach (two of the most popular mobile games on the market right now), is proof of this: their large user base and widely-available software have made them one of the most profitable mobile game development firms in the world. In fact, they took in a record revenue of $2.3 billion in 2015. This has inspired many mobile game app development companies to work on their respective products.
Like with Supercell’s games, Pokémon Go and any mobile app like Pokemon Go use the free-to-play format, encouraging far more users to play, and leaving out any up-front monetary requirement. Indeed, this has led to a more diverse demographic than is typical for a mobile game, as approximately 40 percent of users are 25 or older, along with one in three being women. If you have a smartphone and are able to download the software, then you’re good to go.
Bringing People Together through Social Interaction
This is yet another factor that stems from the game’s vast user base. At the outset, Pokémon Go users are encouraged to work together. Groups exist on social media, CraigsList, and even on Pokémon Go-centered dating sites that can bring together players in various types of social contexts. This furthers Pokémon Go’s reach across consumer groups outside of the gaming world, adding another unprecedented leap in the realm of gaming app development.
This opens up, even more, avenues for group communication, and furthers the concept of uniting users from all demographics, adding to the business of mobile game app development. A good business analyst knows that their product/service can be more far-reaching when it unites different segments of the population. (Most of all because it increases the reach of ads, which will be coming to Pokémon Go in the form of “sponsored locations” soon.)
Utilizing Shareable Content
This is another critical component of Pokémon Go’s success within a social context. Players of the game are able to share updates about new Pokémon they caught, new awards they achieved, etc. Users have the ability to share snapshots of Pokémon they encounter on the go, and share them across multiple social media platforms. Content sharing is a vastly important tool for increasing awareness across the digital space, be it a professional article or a picture on Facebook. This sharing feature is a must if one is thinking to develop an app like Pokemon Go.
Certain research has shown that there are two triggers that make a person share content: rational and emotional. Rationally, a person is triggered to share content because they believe it to be relevant and valuable from their own perspective. Emotionally, a person is triggered because they believe it is fulfilling a particular emotional need or desire. Pokémon Go’s content shareability hits on both of these.
A person can share a personal achievement (for example, a picture of a rare Pokémon they just caught) because they believe it to be both relevant to their customer experience, as well as emotionally-appealing for them psychologically. As mentioned, Pokémon Go users have the ability to share content from the game on demand, thus creating more opportunities for dissemination. This is true in a professional context as well. The more content that a user is able to share among their peers, the more attention and interest your service will garner across the social sphere.
Leveraging Pre-established Success to Create Business Opportunities
This corresponds to the capability of another company to latch onto the popularity of a product/service or a mobile app like Pokemon Go. They will then utilize that demographic within the framework of their business, for their own benefit. Examples of this with Pokémon Go abound. Medical professionals have been quoted as saying that the game could help those with depression or other psychological issues, and articles have even been published on the best workout routines to use when playing the game.
This extends to the professional world too. One example is that business aggregation sites such as “Yelp” have started adding filters for companies that have “PokéStops.” Any competent business will always recognize an opportunity to reach out to additional demographics, especially tech-savvy segments of the population who are avid consumers. If you have a product/service that these types of customers actively use, then chances are that other businesses will want to know how they can leverage this.
Pokémon Go is, at its heart, a game that delivers an enjoyable, recreational experience. But looking further, one begins to understand just how it has managed to extend its influence across different spectrums, affecting everything from mental health to the world economy. The concept of “fun” is, of course, a critical component of human psychology. From the dawn of cinema to the development of the first board game, means of entertainment have always been a vessel for customer engagement. Digital interactivity, especially with the rapid development of recent years, has only furthered this concept.
Pokémon Go has come along at an opportune time, when billions of users the world over the post on social media, share content and communicate across continents. Adding recreation to this equation—especially with a preexisting IP which already has a strong reputation—has sparked something whose globally-reverberating effects have still not been fully realized. Gaming App Development companies, mobile game app developers, and software developers are taking note, yet so too are businesses that wish to improve upon the way their customers interact with their product/service. Understanding these factors can help companies more effectively engage, enhance, and yes, evolve when it comes to developing a mobile app like Pokemon Go.
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