By: Bob Kernen
Unless you’ve been trapped in a mine, in a coma, or in a politically induced media blackout, you’ve heard about the Pokémon GO phenomenon. You’ve probably spent a significant amount of time talking about it. But, what does it all mean?
First, a little background: The augmented reality game (yes, your kids are seeing animated monsters everywhere) was released on July 6th, has been downloaded an estimated 75 million times, and initially put over $11 billion dollars onto Nintendo’s market cap. So, three weeks later, people all over the world are walking around staring at the world through their smartphone camera looking for Pokémon and Poke-stops. They’re talking to each other about where they’re most likely to find Pokémon, and fretting about “leveling up.”
What’s new about GO is that it’s out in the world. It was launched in the summer for a reason, as being out in the local environment is absolutely critical to the game play. As a result, it incorporates local places (for better and worse in the case of the Holocaust Museum) and creates a sense of pervasiveness, that is, “the game is all around me.” And that is a perfect fit for our mobile world.
What all this demonstrates is the tremendous power of games in our never bored society. People of nearly every demographic play some sort of game. Mostly we think of “gamers” as pasty-skinned teenage boys playing Halo in their parents’ basements, but the typical gamer today is a middle aged woman who likes the so-called “casual games” typically found on smartphones – games like Candy Crush, Bejeweled, or Solitaire. When you factor in the casual gamers, the demographics for games simply explode.
In that context, Pokémon GO is only the latest mobile gaming Phenom. Its predecessors include the aforementioned Candy Crush as well as Angry Birds, Farmville, etc. What these games all have in common are that they are highly social and equally addictive. Something in the gameplay makes it hard for people to stop once they start. They provide challenge, and reward in the right proportion to keep us coming back at every free moment.
Now phenomena like Pokémon GO are clearly an example of capturing lightning in a bottle. You can’t plan for that level of success, but what it proves is that people want this kind of stuff.
So in thinking about your mobile strategy, don’t forget to spend some time considering how games might fit. You probably don’t have the next Pokémon GO in your strategic plan, but you can look for ways to “catch” a little of that magic.
A couple years ago one of our radio clients, WCSX asked us to create a game for Michigan’s deer hunting season. We created a game for them, Deer Hunter, and the result was a programming and revenue success. The station aggressively promoted the game, resulting in over 55,000 downloads in just 5 weeks, which created over a million ad impressions for their advertiser.
Gaming is particularly advertiser-friendly, and there many ways to incorporate brands into games in ways that create high value exposure for those brands. The key is to leverage your brand’s qualities and its local flavor to make the game unique, special, and, most of all, fun!
To learn more about how mobile can drive your business, or to discuss your mobile strategy, contact us at 248-353-9030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.