Friday, 28 October 2016

Pokemon Gone?

Many of you might remember the mobile game Pokemon Go. For those that don’t, it’s the game that made people stand still in the middle of the road holding their mobile phones up to their faces. “Charizard!”, that’s all you needed to say to get everyone's attention within a kilometer radius!

Pokemon Go is part of the Nintendo franchise released on July 6, 2016. Within weeks, Pokemon Go became the number one most downloaded game in the free-to-use app category. This app was such a huge success for Nintendo that it increased Nintendo shares by a massive 10%. Three months later and the hype is gone. I personally have not heard of a single person in my social circle talking about Pokemon Go recently. The stats also back this up: By mid-September, revenue dropped from USD16M to USD2M and daily downloads declined enormously from 27 million to just 700,000.

This raises questions on why it dropped so drastically in such a short time and what other gaming companies can learn in order to retain its consumers.


Have a clear path and capitalise quickly
When Pokemon Go was released, there was a limited number of things you could do within the game. It was repetitious and a lot of features were lacking, such as not being able to interact with real life players and shallow game mechanics when battling other Pokemon. This isn’t an issue if the aim of the brand is to get as many players to sign up as possible, but it is an issue when trying to keep them interested.
The developers didn’t release new features quickly enough to keep consumers interested. Although they have released a Pokemon Go wearable a month ago, something that I find interesting, I feel it’s a little too late to retain all the lapsed consumers.

Do your research on what consumers want
It’s bad enough that the game was repetitious and had shallow game mechanics, but the developers then went on to removing a feature that was actually received positively. This was the Pokemon Tracking, which enabled players to find Pokemon based on proximity. As you came closer to finding the pokemon, the tracker would indicate that you are on the right path.

After an update, the Pokemon Tracker was removed and players were forced to walk around in the dark (some players literally played during the night, me included) to find Pokemon, only to realise after half an hour trying to find Charizard that you found Dodrio.

So moving forward, how can Pokemon Go stay afloat? I personally think that it’s a little bit hard for them to recover. Too much damage has already been done and there are too many lapsed consumers. Maybe a potential option for them is to increase social events to raise awareness about the changes that they have made with the game to try and appeal to new, current and lapsed consumers.

Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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