The Pokemon Go Effect: How to Find Your Own Success in an App Idea

*Featured image courtesy of Warren R.M. Stuart on Flickr: VOG Logo has been added

If you have been living under a rock or have Internet Explorer as your primary web browser (shade thrown) you may have heard of a small mobile gaming phenomenon called Pokemon Go. This game has not only captured the attention of fans of the franchise, but has also been an interesting example to the mobile app development community. How did this app become an overnight phenomenon? How can I make an app like that? The truth is behind every “overnight success” there is a tireless, hard working team that can sometimes be months if not years in the making. However, let’s take a look at a few keys that made Pokemon Go specifically successful.

What makes Pokemon Go a Success?

It’s not necessarily anything groundbreaking or new, but how they have gone about using technology in a way not many have that creates the “secret sauce” for innovative success

1. Innovation

If you think about it there really isn’t anything crazy technical about how Pokemon Go operates. GPS that finds you and tracks you, a camera that paints Pokemon characters over the real world, and simple gestures including swipe and tap create the hardest technical aspects of Pokemon Go. Normally this wouldn’t be anything new or crazy, however Pokemon Go has combined these ingredients in a way that is similar to how mom’s cooking seems to taste better than your own no matter how hard you try to make it yourself. Pokemon has defied the genre of “game” and has become something more, a scavenger hunt where the point of the game is not to fight per say, but to collect. Combined with real world augmented reality, and the need to get outside and explore, Pokemon Go has captured attention compared to traditional “sit in your chair and tap” games. The bottom line: It’s not necessarily anything groundbreaking or new, but how they have gone about using technology in a way not many have that creates the “secret sauce” for innovative success.

2. Interaction

If you are a player of Pokemon Go, by now you have likely selected your team based on your favorite color, what each team stands for, or whatever most of your friends went with. I can speak from my own experience however that I have never before played a game that has sparked so much willing social engagement with complete strangers. I often find myself stopping my Pokemon adventures to chat about the latest news, the coolest finds (1200 CP Dragonite), or the playful banter between enemy teams that is bringing players closer together. This style of gameplay seems to appeal to both the extrovert who wants to get out and socialize, as well as the introvert who enjoys the gaming aspect and recognizes the need to get outside more. I was honestly starting to forget what my friends looked like until Pokemon Go… they seem nice. Personally, I tip my cap to Niantic for creating a strong community of such mixed people through a clever system and a fun game.

3. Monetization

If you are wanting to make an app with a Calgary app developer, then chances are you’re looking to put a little coin in your pocket, especially an app as big as Pokemon Go. Niantic probably looked at many models for how a monetization plan would look and came up with the brilliant yet familiar strategy of in app purchases. With the purchasable “Pokecoins” you can buy lucky eggs (double xp), incense (lures Pokemon to you), lure modules (lures Pokemon for everyone to Pokestops), and more. The system in a nutshell, works like this, you pay to attract more Pokemon to you, but not necessarily the ones you need. This system inspires the thrill of what COULD happen compared to what WILL happen, eliminating the normal feedback of “pay to win” style games.

4. Nostalgia

This is an incredible trait that is true to certain types of games and apps. The nostalgia of running downstairs in your PJ’s and turning on the TV to Pokemon as a kid creates the euphoric sensation of a simpler, happier time we may have forgotten as adults. Some millennials will probably also remember all of the classic Pokemon games they used to play, reminding themselves of the happy memories they had and hope to feel again. It’s incredible to see some of my friends who come from all sorts of walks of life such as EMT, business, trades, and good looking successful bloggers 😉 , invest great amounts of time and money into a game that makes you feel like a kid again. Niantic has shown us that the powerful feeling of nostalgia can be harnessed for the good of a business when done correctly and successfully, we will talk a bit more about that further below.

Pokemon Go Art courtesy of Pixabay

– Courtesy of Pixabay

How to replicate Pokemon Go’s success

If you have a solid product or app to back up even the highest marketing claims and maintain it, you will have long term success

1. Franchise

This aspect can be a huge game changer when it comes to the success in your app. You could absolutely make an identical app called “Creature Go” but unfortunately, no one will get it. Pokemon has spent the last 20 years making a huge franchise out of TV shows, movies, cards, games, and more. Not to mention its massive community of talented artists, designers, bloggers, and players who have made some incredible contributions of their own. If you happen to invest time into a successful franchise people can’t get enough of, then odds are an app like this is going to be a hit and could create those feelings of nostalgia as mentioned earlier.

2. Finding the right developer

We might be a bit biased as to who the right developer is, but regardless it’s important to have the right team who shares your vision of what your app will be. Niantic’s founder had previously helped develop Google Maps and the company itself has a long history of making games based on geographical data, so it was an easy decision to make in terms of aligning the vision of the game with what the developer was capable of. Be sure to effectively communicate to your developer what your vision is for your app in order to solidify an understanding of what’s expected as well as a common goal.

3. Innovate… just a little

At the time of this article writing, AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) are currently on the rise of refinement and popularity. Pokemon Go has successfully tapped into the start of what could be a game changing industry in terms of AR and our mobile phone capabilities. As mentioned before there is really nothing crazy or game changing about using our camera, swiping, and tapping, in fact those are pretty basic functions. Niantic however has thought a little bit outside the box and uses very basic functions in a way that no one else has. If you can think outside the box for how a “swipe” or a “tap” can be used in your app, that may contribute towards your own success.

4. Successful marketing of a solid product

In some of my previous jobs, I found myself trying to successfully market a product of application that I honestly didn’t believe in or what I found to be an “empty” product (no value to the customer). Pokemon Go not only had a solid idea that has come to life (server troubles excluded), but has successfully delivered the promise of being able to “catch Pokemon” in real life. Let me give you an example of right and wrong marketing for Pokemon Go:

Right: Pokemon Go: Catch em all in the real world!

This is a great example of what Pokemon centered all of its marketing around successfully. The phrase “Catch ’em all” refers to the actual Pokemon motto (gotta catch ’em all) and implies its strong tie to all things Pokemon both past and present. The second part of the phrase “in the real world” implies the catching of Pokemon in our world through AR or some other cool means, which is no small dream to the Pokemon community.

Wrong: Pokemon Go: Catch the creatures and get fit!

Now that may be a bit of an extreme wrong example, but it definitely attracts the wrong crowd. This markets more to the fitness community who may not be as interested in a Pokemon game as the mobile gaming and anime community. The “catch the creatures” part sends the wrong message that you may not know what you’re talking about, especially to big fans of the franchise.

The Bottom Line

If you can isolate a specific need or develop a large franchise that creates a need, find a Calgary mobile app developer that shares your goal and can execute it, think outside the box in how you achieve it, and market it all successfully, you can absolutely recreate the success of Pokemon Go. A good marketing team can make any sort of product or app seem like it is far more worthwhile than it actually is, however, if you have a solid product or app to back up even the highest marketing claims and maintain it, you will have long term success.

If you believe you have an idea that will be successful then we believe we are the right people to do it! Please Contact Us to set up an appointment for how we can help you achieve your apps vision!