It’s all about Pokémon all over again! You’re either playing Pokémon Go, talking about it, or trying to avoid it altogether. Whatever your personal feelings may be, it cannot be denied that Nintendo have yet again cracked the code to the obsession that swept the world in the late 90’s. And now, in 2016, Pokémon has become an unstoppable trend yet again.
Nintendo’s stock values have shot through the roof (up 86% in value) and the game now has more users than Twitter or Tinder. The game hasn’t even been released worldwide yet! Countries like Canada, France and South America, and even Nintendo’s home Japan haven’t seen the release of Pokémon Go just yet (16th July 2016).
The benefits are quickly becoming clear for all to see. Pokémon Go is getting children and adults alike off of the sofa and into the world to catch virtual Pokémon. I personally walked 7 miles on release day to play. That’s the most I’ve walked for far too long. And I can see myself taking the same route again in the next couple of days. That’s a clear benefit to my health so I’m pleased!
It’s also bringing down a lot of barriers between people which is great. People are making new friends out playing Pokémon Go. Just like when it was trading Pokémon cards that brought kids who wouldn’t usually socialise together, Pokémon Go is doing the same, but with all age groups. And it’s working. I bumped into lots of people, even in a town which has few Pokestops and Gyms outside of town centre.
You see, Nintendo has done something very clever, a genius business move, whether it was purposeful or not. For years, Nintendo has been struggling to compete with Xbox and PlayStation. The Nintendo Wii didn’t last as long as they wanted and the Wii U was pretty much a commercial flop. So what have they done? They’ve driven the gamer base outside away from the consoles.
Not only have they changed the market, but by the sheer luck of this technology to make augmented-reality games being available at this time, they have captured a LOT of age groups and different generations of Pokemon fans. Almost every one under 35 seems to be playing this game! The people who were in the prime Pokémon craze era are playing it. The teenagers who were a bit late to the party are playing it. And now there’s a whole new generation of 10-12 year olds who weren’t even born until the craze had died down are getting into it the same way the older fans did nearly two decades ago. That’s a LOT of Pokémon fans.
This phenomenon has left many business owners wondering if Pokémon Go can benefit their business or bottom line.
There have already been some clever and creative promotions run by various businesses across the globe in an attempt to capitalise on the craze.
A pizza place give out free food to customers who hit certain levels on the game. Great for PR. No hungry kid or adult out catching Pokémon is going to forget the store that gave them free food on their adventure.
If you hand out leaflets in public places, moving to a Pokéstop or Pokemon Gym location could be a good idea. The same applies to mobile food vans and ice cream vans. Pokemon could be redefining where people gather in the real world, and adapting our businesses to this trend can bring in so many new customers and opportunities.
The Pokéstops are at various places, usually landmarks, which city centres have lots of. Players can set up a “lure” at a stop which attracts Pokemon to the area for 30 minutes and then expires. Some shops and restaurants have been keeping a lure active by spending a small amount of money to buy them in the game store to attract more people to the area (the Pokéstop shows up pink if it has a lure attached). This is absolutely genius if you have a stop near your store.
Some businesses however are resorting to putting signs up that say “Pokemon are for paying customers only”. While you could say that’s fair of the stores to do, as a business owner I believe they’d be squandering an opportunity for more customers and as a Pokemon Go player, I’m rolling my eyes and seeing it as an attack on fun.
More good and opportunities will come with embracing this step forward in gaming technology than by pushing it away. In years to come, when augmented-reality and virtual space becomes more and more utilised, will you want to be the business that embraced it at the start and built a great rapport with the local and regular gamers nearby or will you be the store that shunned them when they were first out playing?
Exercise, friendships, fun, business opportunities, and generally good societal benefits can come from this game and any future reality-based games. As long as people are safe and respect each other while out and about playing it. Sure, you’re going to get people that play it while driving or crossing the road, and you might discover a body because you ventured somewhere off the usual path to catch a Pokémon, but I think a little bit of perspective is needed here. These things make the news because they’re shocking and grim. But ask the millions of players around the world about the new friends they’ve made, the weight they’ve lost, the fun they’ve had and how much time they’ve spent in the sunshine over the next few months. This isn’t going away anytime soon. Get with it or don’t, I know which I’m doing.