Have you noticed the world seems slightly different this week? Lots of people are outside, nothing new there, but instead of socialising, they are all staring intently at their phones?
Cyclists are on their bikes but they aren’t moving. Motorists in cars, but they aren’t driving. Everyone is absorbed in their phone. There’s only one answer for this…
Pokémon GO, a free app which calls on players to hunt for the virtual creatures in the real world via augmented reality, was released in the UK yesterday and we have been going nuts for it. The game was initially released in the U.S, Australia and New Zealand and we sat patiently waiting while Niantic sorted out server errors. Apparently, they thought it would be popular, but not this popular.
In nine days, the app has been downloaded more times that Tinder (Pokémon GO on 5.16% of all US phones vs 2% for Tinder), and is close to overtaking Twitter in the number of daily active users. To repeat, Pokémon GO has been out nine days. Twitter has been around for a decade. Data has also been released showing that Pokémon GO has completely overtaken popular social media apps.
(Source: CNET & Business Insider)
With stats like these, it’s hard not to take notice of it and ponder its applications for businesses. As well as encountering wild Pokémon in the office, the game also features Pokémon gyms and PokéStops.
PokéStops are real-world locations where users can pick up extra Pokéballs, potions and other items to help them in the game. While these have been preset, businesses lucky enough to be chosen have been embracing players, a move that could allow them to convert players into paying customers.
Even if you aren’t a PokéStop (or a supplier of power banks), other businesses have been benefitting from engaging with this receptive audience.
While businesses are a small part of this phenomenon, communities are being brought together through this. People (including youngsters) are being encouraged to get outdoors, rather than staying indoors playing video games. “But they are just outside doing the same thing.” Well, no:
People are getting out, exploring, exercising and learning more about their local environment. Some of the PokéStops are places of interest, that you may never have seen before. Even mediocre things are more exciting. Think this is a standard roundabout? WRONG. It’s a gym. A peaceful park? WRONG. It’s another gym, full of monstrous creatures of immense power and strength.
It’s a little surreal when someone yells there’s a Pokémon in the office (we’re also only 2 minutes from a gym and PokéStops, just FYI).
A future of ar-related commercial opportunities?
The game is very much still in its infancy, so it’s hard to determine whether it’s here to stay or just a fad. What we do know, is this app is exciting people, young and old. Full-grown adults are getting excited over this (after all, we’ve been waiting 20 years to play with our favourite Pokémon).
Businesses should enjoy the hype while they can; for PokéStops there are Lure modules that attract Pokémon to that stop for 30 minutes. Lures combined with Pokémon GO-specific messaging and promotions could prove to be a valuable tool for increasing Pokémon GO foot traffic and turning it into revenue.
For local businesses that aren’t PokéStops, capitalising on the game could be more difficult, however it seems likely that if the game’s popularity continues to grow at current rates that companies may be able to pay to become a PokéStop or Gym.
If you love it, Pokémon GO wearables are coming soon to enhance gameplay. There are also local Facebook groups you can join to connect with your team. Personally, we are quite enjoying it, grabbing the team for a quick Pokéwalk on our lunch break.
Even if this Pokédiction proves to be short-lived, it could just be the start for a myriad of augmented reality games that local businesses can immerse themselves in to bring new customers through their doors as well and connect with existing customers too.