THE MILLION DOLLAR JOKE
If you have paid attention to the news lately, you would have likely come across the phenomenon of Pokémon Go- a game in which real people catch digital monsters in real places. This game, on one hand, has led to an increase in the crime rate while on the other hand, it has induced social interaction. So, where did this defining moment begin from?
In order to find out the roots of the idea for this "crazy-driving" game, we need to go back to 1st April 2014. On this day, Google created a game in which people had to look for Pokémon on Google maps. The Pokémon simply appeared as icons on the map screen, the same way a restaurant does. To catch one, you simply had to tap on it. And what would you get in return? A job as the “Pokémon Master” at Google. The whole thing turned out to be a prank. That April, most people played the “game” jokingly, then forgot all about it but not for one person. His name was John Hanke, Chief Executive of Niantic Labs, who had a Eureka moment. At that time, Niantic Labs had released Ingress, a game that required users to physically travel to places in the real world in order to accomplish game goals. So they extended the same technology to Google's idea, and Pokémon Go was born.
In its launch year(2016) itself, it became a sensation and earned $832 million. Although, after this, there was a sharp decline in popularity yet the fall didn't continue for a long period and the game maintained its charms or rather it maintains its charm till date.
The game follows a "freemium" policy that is there are no charges for playing the game however one has to pay in order to avail some of the facilities within the app. After the decline, it came back in the show with new features like raid battles, trading and improved AR camera effects. This led to a steep rise in the in-app purchase revenue which was estimated to be around $816 million by the end of 2018. The game also had over 147 million monthly active users as of May 2018. In December 2018, the company alone saw a 35 per cent increase on the previous years’ earnings. By early 2019, the game had over a billion global downloads, grossing over $3 billion in revenue. It had a record year in 2019, taking in $900 million through in-app purchases.
The game has never left the field since its launch. It started with around 150 species and this number has grown to about 500 (as of 2019). Now the question arises, what separates this game apart from other games? In a mobile gaming market that is increasingly fickle, how did Pokemon Go incredibly sustain its success?
All the tactics like pre-launch promotional campaigns, no charges, available on both ios and android, etc. have been used a lot of times in the mobile gaming market. However, the secret ingredient of Pokemon Go's success wasn't a sensible marketing approach rather it was the unforgettable user experience (the technological side of the product). The spicy combination of Augmented Reality and Location-Based Services made Pokémon Go an overall winner.
1. Augmented Reality- AR uses the smartphone camera view to show virtually overlaid objects. It produces a mixture of familiar surroundings with fictional elements, creating a new virtual world where a player is a real Hero.
2. Location-based services - It allows tracking of one's actions and movements on the screen in real-time.
Pokémon Go proved to be a perfect example of nostalgia marketing. The audience, who had always been nostalgic for such a virtual reality game finally got one of its kind games which not only makes people happy but is considered a good game as well.
So, in conclusion, Pokémon Go was released to mixed reviews; critics praised the concept but criticized technical problems. However, the game soon started to refer to as a "social media phenomenon" which has brought people together from all walks of life. 231 million people engaged in 1.1 billion interactions that mentioned Pokémon Go on Facebook and Instagram in the month of July.
It turned out to be one of the most used and profitable mobile apps in 2016, having been downloaded more than 500 million times worldwide by the end of the year. However, it also was credited with popularizing location-based and AR technology, promoting physical activity, and helping local businesses grow due to increased foot traffic. With time, it also attracted controversy for contributing to accidents and creating public nuisances. Various governments expressed concerns about security, and some countries regulate their use.
Feeding into this nostalgia, the app is bringing to fruition one of Millennials gamers’ biggest dreams: to play Pokémon Go in real life and what was behind all this, what started all this was nothing but a prank. (the million-dollar joke ?)