Sometime over the weekend, Niantic’s pokemon go went from a fun time-waster for nostalgic Nintendo fans to a bona fide viral hit drawing mainstream media attention and inquiries from well-meaning but confused parents. The humble geolocation game has shot to No. 1 on the iTunes App Store’s download and revenue charts and is already threatening to surpass Twitter in daily users on Android devices. Nintendo shares are up about 25 percent today on news of the game’s success, and Spotify says all five of the most-streamed songs from the past week are Pokémon-related.
This is officially a phenomenon.
In the wake of the game’s stratospheric success, you could already feel a few embryonic storylines emerging in the media over the weekend. Here are some of the key angles we can already see developing pokemon To go and an instant, skeptical analysis you can break out when you want to show off your industry intelligence at your next dinner party.
This confirms Nintendo’s mobile strategy
pokemon go‘s success certainly validated a mobile game development strategy – just not necessarily Nintendos mobile game development strategy. That’s because, as announced last September, pokemon go is actually a collaboration between Nintendo and three other companies: Game Freak (the developers of many earlier pokemon games), The Pokémon Company (itself a conglomerate of Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures), and Google-affiliated (but now separate) Niantic Inc.
Of these four, Niantic seems to have had the most to deal with pokemon gothe actual design and size. The game itself is very similar Enter, the previous game from Niantic, which similarly focused on forcing people out of the house and capturing points based on their real-world GPS-tracked location. Tsunekazu Ishihara of The Pokémon Company noticed the Enter inspiration explicit in announcing the game, saying that he “felt like it shared a common philosophy with Pokémon and that with the developer, Niantic, we could create a new type of game pokemon game.”
Nintendo deserves credit for investing significant money into Niantic months ago and for allowing its brand to be used by a third-party developer. But the game is no proof that Nintendo suddenly knows how to develop a popular mobile game. When legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto spoke during the announcement in September, his comments focused mostly on the history of the franchise and the Pokémon Go Plus wristband accessory, rather than exciting game design ideas. The Nintendo logo doesn’t even appear on the game’s official web page; all the company gets there is a little notice as the Pokémon trademark holder.
Nintendo didn’t even seem that interested in it pokemon go from a business point of view. When the company talked about its mobile plans in recent months (like several times), pokemon go hardly deserved a mention. Instead, the company’s public comments on mobile gaming focused on the recently launched Miitomo and upcoming games created in collaboration with Japanese mobile powerhouse DeNA (including titles that support the Fire emblem and Crossing animals licenses).
This all suggests that Nintendo saw it pokemon go as a mere licensing game and was largely fortunate to be involved in the first mobile mega hit associated with one of its brands. Hopefully the company learns the right lessons from that happy breakup.
This proves that people are hungry for augmented reality
Could be. But it’s just as likely to prove that people are hungry pokemon on their phones and are willing to try augmented reality to get it.
When people talk about it pokemon go as “augmented reality,” they mainly refer to two things: the game’s reliance on real-world location data to find fictional characters, and the ability to see Pokémon in the “real world” through a mobile phone’s camera and screen. phone. These features are far from unique to it pokemon gohowever, and plenty of other recent games and apps haven’t achieved the same level of success with either.
Look at Niantic’s own location-based Enter, which as of January had reached 14 million downloads in about three years of availability. That’s not bad for a free-to-play title from a new company with an unknown name. But it pales in comparison Pokemom Gothat is reportedly already making $1.6 million a day on his first weekend. Why is one so much more successful than the other? The well-known brand name of the Pokémon franchise seems to be the most likely culprit.
As for camera-based AR, there are dozens of apps built around projecting information over your camera’s real-life images. However, look through that linked list and you’ll probably realize that you’ve never heard of most of those apps or companies.
That’s because holding your phone to see a small window in an AR “landscape” is inherently awkward and only useful in very limited (and short) situations. As it turns out, sending humorous photos of Pokémon projected onto real-world settings is one of those situations (although the novelty of this could easily wear off with a little more time).
With games like the PlayStation Vitas Invizimals attempted to similarly project augmented reality critters into the real world a few years ago, the market responded with a critical shrug and a general lack of interest from players. The likely difference, again, is that lucrative Pokémon branding.
Perhaps pokemon go proves that the public is finally ready to embrace these phone-based AR gimmicks. However, remember that when a counterfeit version of Pokemon Yellow which shot to the top of the iOS App Store charts a few years ago, it didn’t need fancy AR features to succeed. When I try to separate the appeal of Pokémon from the appeal of phone-based augmented reality, I lean toward Pokémon as the much larger driving force behind pokemon go‘s success.
It’s a fad, people will get tired of it
The biggest complaint about pokemon go from many gamers is that it doesn’t offer enough depth. After players find a few Pokémon nearby, level them up a bit, and maybe put up some battles at their local gym, they’ll realize there’s not much inherently interesting about watching their collection grow and their numbers slowly increase . Or so the argument goes.
This strikes me as a short-sighted objection. The inherently addictive nature of the “catch ’em all” mechanic has been proven for decades pokemon games now and will likely survive even without the somewhat thin RPG gameplay of the Game Boy series underneath. And everything from Clash Royale until Cookie clicker to the Diablo series has proven the lizard brain appeal of games that are basically focused on watching rising numbers. When it comes to hooking people, pokemon goThe program’s lack of depth may be a feature rather than a bug.
Moreover, pokemon go can grow and evolve with its player base. The version of the game playing today is the “minimum viable product” sent out to prove the concept has legs. Now that this has been proven (to the tune of millions of players), the game can be expanded through frequent updates that can add new items, new gameplay features, and new Pokémon to find. Simply adding a Pokémon trading feature and the ability to battle nearby players at any time would greatly extend the life of the game.
Some early players will no doubt drop out in the coming weeks because they get fed up pokemon gogimmicks. But after such a huge initial splash, even a big drop will leave a huge core of dedicated players eager to catch them all far into the future. Whether you like it or not, pokemon go probably not going anywhere.