Pokemon GO: Branding Vs Innovation

Ever since Nintendo introduced us to Pokemon in 1997, Pokefans everywhere have dreamt of catching Pokemon in the real world. Nintendo finally turned this dream into reality when they broke away from the confines of gaming consoles and entered the mobile space with Pokemon GO. As most of us already know, Pokemon GO is a mobile gaming app that uses augmented reality to let players catch Pokemon in real world environments. It’s only been 2 weeks since its release and the internet is already brimming with stories of players going out of their way to catch Pokemon in revel of their revived childhood. Ask any of these players why they play Pokemon GO and you can count on them telling you “because it’s Pokemon.” Although the Pokemon brand is undoubtedly strong, this is far too simple of an answer to account for the app’s 15 million downloads. Our experts at Ice House believe that Pokemon GO’s viral popularity goes much deeper than branding alone.

Pokemon GO’s success comes from it’s innovative approach to Gaming

In 2013, Niantic, the developers of Pokemon GO, released Ingress, an augmented reality game similar to Pokemon GO. Even without a strong brand like Pokemon Ingress made a huge impact on the app space with over 7 million downloads. This isn’t even close to the 15 million times Pokemon GO was downloaded, but 7 million downloads is by no means a small feat for any app and this is due to the innovative technology behind Ingress.

In Ingress players travel the real world to capture Portals — much like capturing Pokemon Gyms in Pokemon GO

Both Pokemon GO and Ingress are built on the concept of Gamification — applying game-design elements and gaming principles into a non-gaming environment. Unlike most other video games, Pokemon GO and Ingress engage players by encouraging them to explore the real world to complete objectives. Furthermore, since both games are playable on mobile devices, players can access them in almost any situation, whether it be at home, work, or during a commute, making them highly engaging and highly accessible gaming apps.

But what does Pokemon GO do besides entertain players? And herein lies the next challenge for Niantic: in order for them to maximize Pokemon GO’s potential, they must figure out practical uses for the app so that they could eventually monetize the features of the app.

Gaming for businesses

With its capability to engage players and reward them for completing real-life physical actions, the concept of Gamification could potentially be the holy grail of all promotional tools — and we’ve seen this at work. In 2012, our experts at Ice House worked with Vuforia to develop a mobile app that would promote Paramount Picture’s Star Trek: Into Darkness blockbuster film.

Once fans download the app on their mobile device, Star Trek: Into Darkness sends fans on missions to take pictures of Star Trek: Into Darkness movie posters, listen to songs from the series soundtrack, and even watch the film at movie theaters. As fans complete these missions, they win points, gain ranks in Star Fleet, and earn kudos for their social media profiles. To give fans this hero-making adventure, our engineers integrated the latest context-aware technology for audio scanning, geolocation tracking, and image recognition; the first in the world to do all three.

In addition to film promotion, our team has also used gamification to promote shops and restaurants when we developed the Pacific Place Mall mobile app. As we discussed in another article, this clever mobile app enhanced the shopping experience at Pacific Place Mall by sending shoppers on a scavenger hunt. As they traverse the mall to complete their objectives, they cross Bluetooth beacons that send messages to the user’s device, allowing vendors to communicate with their customers. Airports could potentially use a similar strategy by using an app to give travelers activity suggestions as they wait for their flights — a strategy known as O2O marketing.

With O2O, short for Online to Offline, businesses can encourage their customers to visit physical stores by engaging them online. The mobile app Dealoka uses this strategy by giving users of the online app discount coupons to retailers that have hired Dealoka’s services, thus encouraging customers to visit physical shops restaurants. If only Pokemon GO would be as useful to businesses.

There’s no arguing that Pokemon GO has become a phenomenal hit. In fact, many consider it to be one of the most successful apps that have ever entered the market. However, in order for Pokemon GO to stay alive, the companies behind it have to find a way to monetize the app’s features before it crashes permanently. Our experts at Ice House have figured out unique, creative ways to activate sales and create profit out of virtual reality and O2O apps — and if we can do it so can Pokemon GO. Visit our website or contact us directly to find out how you can use apps for your business.