There are alot of posts on social media sites about what it feels like being a 90s kid.
Few people could have predicted that the biggest monetize of the 90s kid nostalgia would be Nintendo, a giant whose obituary was written by alot of experts after the Nintendo Wii.
Every 90s kid in India remembers the mandatory 5pm Pokemon and 5:30pm Beyblade shows that used to come on Cartoon Network.
And like almost all shows that included characters with supernatural powers, most people often wondered, ‘what if this was all real?’
Well, it seems all prayers that seemed improbable, were answered when Niantic, a startup that spun out of Google, created Pokemon Go, an augmented reality game that allows users to be a Pokemon trainer and embark on his/her own journey, similar to that of the protagonist Ash Ketchum from the anime series, Pokemon.
The game uses Google Maps to detect your location and has Pokemon filled all over the world.
To play this, one has to actually move around and catch Pokemons, by swiping on their phones and while catching a Pokemon, it will appear as if it is actually present there.
For example if one finds a Pokemon under a tree, one can actually see it sitting under a tree from the camera of his phone. Pokemons are to be caught in Pokeballs, which along with other merchandise is available at Pokestops, that are present at all important landmarks.
For example, they can be present at restaurants, temples or monuments. Like any other game, this one too follows the levels system and higher the level, rarer the Pokemon one can catch and more and more features of the application one can activate.
(The concept of Augmented Reality)
Selling Memories? To market this product, Niantic has primarily relied on the power of nostalgia and fantasy but they had dropped a major hint through an advertisement that they sent out on the 2016 Superbowl, a major event in American sports, that’s also the most watched sporting event in the world. They sent out an AD to celebrate 20 years of Pokemon going by the tagline, ‘I can do that.’ , thus dropping a major hint that Ash Ketchum was going to the masses.
(The Superbowl commercial that dropped a major hint that a game like this was on its way)
The power of this game has been so immense that it is still only released in a select few countries but is played all over the world through 3rd party apk clients. It has not officially released in India, a country that has the 4th highest downloads of the game.
(BOOM! That’s a multi bagger!)
Now, comes the million dollar question, how does Niantic make money out of this since its free to play?
To simply answer this, it is a result of addiction and desperation!
Users are so addicted to playing this that they want to catch rarer Pokemon’s, that give them a feel of achieving something and as a result purchase from the store, which has items to lure Pokemon’s.
Also, the developers are making buckets of money from all the data that they’re collecting.
Pokemon Go has access to the user’s Google account and also has access to location specific data.
It knows where a user is going, with whom is he going, how much time is he spending there; infact if one logs in through Google or iOS, it has permissions to your Google account to an extent where Niantic can read and write the user’s emails. Analysts say that such information compiled with granular, block by block location data could make Pokemon Go one of the most detailed location specific social graphs.
On the flipside, so much data with a small company like Niantic could make it really susceptible to hackers.
Not only is Niantic monetizing out of this but also, one of the biggest monetizers have been restaurants.
Restaurants are often near Pokestops and are hence making full use of it, they’ve been dropping module lures, that cost around $1 on the store and can be used to attract rare Pokemons, this makes more and more of users flock to these restaurants, thus increasing revenue.
There was a famous incident of a restaurant giving a customer a free sandwich in his next visit if the customer tweeted that the restaurant was near a Pokestop!
(Can’t afford to advertise? A Pokemon is to the rescue!)
Robbers market? In Missiouri, robbers set up a beacon in order to attract crowds close to a Pokestop, but were hopefully, caught by the police.
The game also has had its string of strange incidents from a stampede happening at Central Park because a rare Pokemon appeared to thousands of South Koreans flocking to the North Korean border to catch some Pokemon!
After writing so much about Pokemon Go, all I’ve to say, “I gotto catch em’ all!”
(This article has been written by Nisant Mohta, who is a 20 year old intern with Neeti Brand Accelerator. He used to disappear from office –mostly un- announced. When I confronted him, he told me that he goes out to catch Pokemons.
I am completely in awe of this super product design and its amazing marketing strategy. Everyday ,I am reading new stories of this sensational product, where people have been shot at; accidents have happened, but this wildfire doesn’t seem to stop.
I have not seen this kind of mania before.