Pokémon Go: let’s put its success in context

Enrique Dans
Jul 26, 2016 · 2 min read

At this stage in the game there is little point in questioning the wisdom of Niantic in recycling the relatively aged Ingress and licensing the rights of Nintendo’s miniature monsters: a record number of downloads from app stores, the most popular game in the relatively short history of smartphones and a global cultural phenomenon with all kinds of repercussions, good and bad.

That said, while it’s important to understand what Pokemon Go is, it’s also important to remember what it isn’t. It’s not revolutionary in any way, it’s just a simple game to amuse oneself with for a brief period of time. Which is fine. But it’s just a game.

Sure, it’s generate millions of dollars in revenue, and there’s talk about integrating advertisers into it, and there are going to be new Pokemon families, but it’s still just a game. It’s not particularly innovative, and probably will disappear in the not too distant future.

Furthermore, the fact that Pokemon Go has sent Nintendo’s share price soaring only shows that investors these days are not exactly professionals and have little idea what they are doing. The sharp rise in Nintendo’s share price, doubling its value, only lasted until the company itself told the world what anybody who has heard of Wikipedia already knew: Nintendo didn’t make Pokemon Go, and was only taking a small share of the game’s revenue. Its share price soon fell, showing that Pokemon Go wasn’t going to be its savior, and that the console supremo is still having trouble adapting to the smartphone world, relying instead on a third party to make money for it through licensing.

Pokemon Go’s star is already beginning to diminish. Its popularity shows, above all, that the entry barriers for such games are lower than ever, that the game doesn’t last very long, and that growth is not sustainable, as the trends for Google searches show. It’s already on the decline in the United States, and the same will take place everywhere else.

Within a short time, Pokemon Go will be just a fleeting summer memory of a game that we will see wasn’t even that innovative (at least if you had played Ingress). We should never forget that there is a big difference between a fun game and a technological revolution, and in case anybody had any doubts about my take, Pokemon Go belongs to the former. Which isn’t such a bad thing.

(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School and blogger at enriquedans.com

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

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