Inspiring a new generation of players

Camp Pokémon provides an immersive world for kids to learn and play

Like people, if brands are lucky, they grow old. But unlike people, brands need to stay relevant, even as they age. They can’t just hike up their pants, put on an old 45, and shake their fists at the kids on the lawn. Pokémon, the mega-property that includes trading cards, an animated series, video games, toys and books, has been thriving for over twenty years. This is a testament to its strength but has also presented a recent challenge: Many of its devotees have grown up. So Pokémon found itself needing to introduce its universe, which has become increasingly vast over the years, to a new generation of fans. Pokémon needed to both engage and educate these newcomers to the brand, so this new audience could appreciate the richness of the universe forged over more than two decades.

Pokémon turned to POP to create an experience that would help introduce young kids to the Pokémon universe in a way that was as fun and compelling as the brand itself. Two things were apparent to the POP creative team: the experience had to be on the devices kids and parents used together and, after observing the way many kids reacted to apps and experiences that were set in immersive worlds, the POP creative team knew they wanted to create something with physicality — a “place” where kids could go to have fun while learning about Pokémon.

With that in mind, POP devised a playful app dubbed “Camp Pokémon,” an immersive, imaginary island where kids could virtually travel from station to station, playing games and taking fun quizzes. The team’s goal was to make learning about Pokémon a fantastic adventure in itself.

Rewards, interaction and immersion

In focus groups conducted for the redesign of Poké, POP had learned that young kids loved collecting rewards for tackling challenges, so they made rewards an integral part of Camp Pokémon. When kids completed a challenge, they would earn pins that they could add to their personal pin book, with the goal of collecting all 99. Players could also earn stickers, which they could then use to decorate pictures of themselves taken through the app’s virtual photo booth. They could then share those pictures with friends, getting them to join in the fun.

“We looked at this project as an opportunity to co-create a world between our everyday reality and the Pokémon universe,” said Joel Eby, Creative Director at POP. “A lot of kids hear the buzz about Pokémon on the playground or in the classroom, and they want in. To do that, we couldn’t really leverage existing stories and pre-established worlds as part of the lore. It had to be a dedicated, all-new place that was just about immersing yourself for the first time in a big world. Just like summer camp.”

What the industry had to say

Pokémon initially set a goal for this new app of one million downloads in three months, and that was achieved in just two weeks. In fact, just a few hours after launching, Camp Pokémon was named one of the “Best New Apps” on the Apple App Store. It also earned a #1 spot in the Kid’s Free Apps category for ages 6 to 8, as well as the Entertainment Apps category. After only three days, the app was rated 4+ stars with over 300 reviews.

But the app, designed on Unity to be multiplatform, was created to live and grow beyond its launch. Camp Pokémon recently added a movie theater to the island, where Pokémon plays a rotating selection of shows, re-engaging kids who were early adopters and attracting a new audience as well.

With the help of Camp Pokémon, a whole new generation of kids will grow up playing in the Pokémon world.

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