Pokémon Go and the Power of a Brand

The Poké Hype

The hype about Pokemon GO in the international press, in social networks, and in the word of mouth is slowly declining. We still see hundreds of Pokémon Go players hanging around in the Central Park in New York and other popular public places all around the world. Who ever thought that this kind of hype is possible?

Since its release Pokémon Go has been downloaded more than 75 Million times on Google Play. Nintendo’s stock went through the roof adding more than $7.5 Billion to the company’s market value. Pokémon Go surpassed Twitter in daily active users and on July 12th Pokémon Go had almost 21 Million active users making it the most popular game in the US ever (even beating Candy Crush). This sounds like millions of people became nerds only playing Pokemon 24 hours a day. But with Pokemon Go it is different. You need to go out to play the game. So instead of lonely gamers in front of Gameboys and PCs we now see Pokemon Go players socialising at public places around the globe. That sounds nice so far.

Would this success have been possible without the brand “Pokemon”?

The Power of the Pokémon Brand

You can answer this question with definitely not. There have been several augmented reality games before. Even Niantic — the developer of Pokemon Go — published an AR game called Ingress in 2013. Ingress is mostly similar to Pokemon Go but it even has much more functionality and even more exciting game functionalities than Pokemon Go still Pokémon Go is in the news headlines. Ingress is not the only AR game which existed before Pokemon Go. Is it really the technology of augmented reality which made this game so exciting?

Pokémon Go > Augmented Reality

I personally think that the AR technology is not a real success factor for Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go showed us how powerful a brand can be. Even if Nintendo would’ve developed a new smartphone game on their own without using AR technology it would have been a huge success. Pokemon is not only a powerful game brand but it is also a brand several generations grew up with. It is uniting generations. Some played Pokemon on their Gameboy Colors, some already had a Gameboy Advance, some had a Gameboy Advance SP, and other played Pokemon the first time on a Nintendo DS. All those first-time players grew up and now they all have a smartphone in their pockets. The time of old clunky Gameboys is gone. But everyone still remembers the awesome Pokemon game from their childhood. Now a new version of Pokemon is released for smartphones — sure everyone wants to give it a try.

Pokemon Go is a massive success thanks to the revival of a huge brand so many people grew up with.

AR? Not yet…

The NY Times wrote that Pokémon Go brought AR to the mass audience but I rather think that the mass audience is not interested in AR technology at all. The mass audience is annoyed of the current way you need to use AR technology. You look onto the world through your camera of your smartphone while having your display on. Can you think of something more battery draining than this? Let’s face it: Pokemon Go is a massive success thanks to the revival of a huge brand so many people grew up with. Let’s how that all current Pokemon Go players and those who gave it a try remember the AR technology behind it and let’s hope that at least some companies come up with a more advanced AR solution and useful AR apps for our smartphones.

By the way: Did you know IKEA has an augmented reality functionality in its app since 2014?

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