Why Pokémon is a Go, Go, Go for all of us

Thu 15 Sep 2016 @ 9:41

Quite apart from the fact that Nintendo shares are already up an astonishing 10% or $17 billion since the launch of Pokémon Go last week there are many more reasons for every one of us involved in gaming or promotions to sit up and really take notice. This isn’t something we can just leave to our 8-year-old kids, engaging with the beasts first time around, or even our 25-year-old kids taking second swipe at their collector youth. Thus is something that is impacting on every generation and its impact is here to stay. Vox culture reported on 14th July that more than 40 percent of the adults who downloaded the mobile app are older than 25, and about one in three adult users are women. This is according to data from StartApp, a company that tracks 600 million users for downloads and social usage.

By the same token we have to recognise that some adults are taking the game a little too seriously with disastrous results, NBC 7 in San Diego reports that a pair of men were injured while playing Pokémon GO when they fell off a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Apparently the men broke through a fence to catch a Pokémon, despite posted signs warning people that the bluffs they were climbing onto were unstable.

So we have the young and the old, the bright and the less than bright, but what of the great and the good out there in gaming land and promotional marketing world?

Social Media experts may need to rethink their strategies, because in case we had any doubt whatsoever that Pokémon GO is destroying all mobile competition, Similar Web has confirmed that the wildly popular augmented reality title has managed to surpass Twitter’s daily active users, “and if the trend continues, it is poised to take on Snapchat, WhatsApp, and other popular social apps.” Here in the UK Marketing Week tells us that the average iPhone user, meanwhile, spends 33 minutes and 25 seconds a day on Pokémon Go, which is greater than Facebook (22 minutes), Snapchat (18 minutes), Twitter (17 minutes and 56 seconds) and Instagram (15 minutes).

So social media planning will be impacted. What about gaming? Well the impact will be big and it will be powerful. Seth Fischer, founder and chief investment officer at Oasis Management, is one of Asia’s best known hedge fund managers and has long been a small but loud shareholder in Nintendo. Encouraged by the success of mobile games like “Candy Crush”, he has campaigned for years for the Japanese console maker to develop and sell games for platforms run by Apple and Google.

“I hope they will now understand the power of smartphones,” Fischer told Reuters. “And as a result, I hope this means there is a whole change in strategy. [The next] focus with Nintendo is for them to focus on monetizing the rest of their 4,000 patents for mobile gaming, multi-player gaming, et cetera. I think they could be making 30 to 60 billion yen ($290 million to $570 million) annually from licensing.” So, strong competition for other players in all gaming markets.

As for brands, historically they’ve developed their own augmented reality games but many now feel the moves by Nintendo and others are so far ahead of brand budgets that there will be a shift in how they engage. In Marketing Week, again we read that Antonin Lhuillier, managing director of North Europe for mobile gaming developer Gameloft, believes the success of Pokémon Go will stop many brands from creating their own AR experiences and instead look to partner with bigger games.

“Historically, brands would release native gaming apps of their own in an attempt to gamify their brand. What we see more of today is brands working with apps that already have massive audiences, integrating their brand in a natural way,” he explains. “This might be through sponsoring in-game tournaments, or providing bonus levels and content.”

And for the more commercially minded promotional brands out there, this reminds us at PIMS SCA of Cadbury’s treasure hunt promotions from days gone by, when consumers were digging up national monuments in a bid to find a Cadbury’s stunning solid-gold. The egg itself was won in a Cadbury’s competition which had to be called off when people started digging up the countryside. The 22-carat, 3 inch-tall egg was one of 12 commissioned by the chocolate company for the promotion, cryptic clues were meant to guide contestants to one of a dozen secret locations across the British Isles. There they could dig up a certificate entitling them to the valuable prize but the whole thing proved so popular that thousands of people ended up digging up private land and protected sites in their hunt for the gold.

Maybe we will have learned something this time around but we’d bet it won’t be long before we’re all following our smartphones looking for the 2016 or 2017 equivalent of the real Cadbury’s Crème Egg. Hopefully we’ll be steering clear of cliff edges, motorway networks and national treasures.