Pokémon GO: The Good, The Bad, The Opportunity

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By now you have no doubt heard of Pokémon GO, and its rapid expansion across the globe as one of the most consumed apps ever. In literally the span of a few days it’s surpassed some of the most popular mobile apps (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter) for usage. Pokémon GOusers are spending an average 43 minutes on the app every day. And there’s a good reason for this. Pokémon go is the first mainstream game that uses augmented reality as its platform. What does this mean? It’s literally like you’re inside the game, playing in real life.

In 2013 Pokémon (owned in part by Nintendo) partnered with Niantic (owned by Google) to start to create Pokémon GO. They used Google maps and overlaid Nintendo’s Pokémon characters to make a “real life” Pokémon game.

So to describe it to people who haven’t yet seen it, I’ll keep it simple. Basically you look into your phone, which is using its camera, and the game uses GPS points to place various Pokémon characters and items. And users literally walk around looking through their phone to identify character and items to play the game. It’s like virtual reality and real life mix together–your phone acts as a lens into another world full of Pokémon.

Pokémon GOis revolutionary, and it has caused one of the greatest shifts of consumer attention we have seen in a decade.

Now anytime you have a massive trend, you have winners and you have losers. You have advocates and you have critics. People love it and they hate it.

The Good

Anytime you have breakthrough technology, there is usually a huge benefit to its existence. And one of the biggest benefits to Pokémon GO, aside from being fun to play, is that it’s bringing people together and building a community around players. People are literally going out to find Pokémon “gyms”, or seeking out Pokémon’s to capture and meeting new people at these locations. For instance there could be a Pokémon at a local coffee shop (remember the game uses GPS location to place its items and characters) and multiple people could be going to try to catch that Pokémon. They’ll probably see each other playing in real life, and start up a conversation. Friends, coworkers and even random strangers are now meeting up just to go play the game together. There are roaming their respective cities together playing the game.

This is life now people. With Pokémon GO, that shift to virtual reality has officially gone from walking to running. Click To Tweet

On another note, yes it’s still a videogame, but it’s getting people up off the couch and encouraging them to walk, and search different roads, sidewalks and trails to play the game. It’s doing a great job promoting physical activity.

The Bad

On the flipside, anytime you have massive amounts of people jumping on board with the trend there are some downsides.

Just like when texting became a thing–there were car accidents due to texting and driving–we are starting to see in the news that people are getting into physical harm while playing the game. People are getting into car accidents and even falling off cliffs in search of Pokémon. It’s ridiculous to think about, but it is a true “craze”.

People are also wandering into places that they probably shouldn’t be in search for characters and other inter-game items. A statement was released for Pokémon players to please refrain from going into the Holocaust Museum to catch a Pokémon. Likewise Australian police sent out a statement on its Facebook page with the following:

The Opportunity

This is my favorite part. The opportunities are endless with a massive consumer trend like this. I’ll start with the obvious. Anywhere you get massive amounts of people to pay attention to something there’s value for people and brands. While you can already buy things like lures on the game, without a doubt they will release a feature that allows local restaurants to buy a character to place inside their locations in order to lure customers in. They will pay to have characters featured, or Pokémon gyms surrounding their locations. Maybe they will even be able to sponsor characters. The possibilities are endless.

In addition, I’d like to point out an opportunity that most people aren’t thinking about. The widespread hysteria about Pokémon GO has millions of people spending upwards of an hour–and soon to be more–every day playing the game. It’s addicting. And it’s making us all very aware of how people are spending their time. Watching millions of people spending your time playing this game makes it more apparent that those who work hard at achieving personal and professional goals will win. When everyone else is watching Netflix and playing Pokémon GO, there is huge opportunity for the hustlers to make their dreams come true. Sure PokémonGo is fun and exciting to play, but it’s really not advancing your life unless you’re part of the Nintendo team or doing platform research to learn how it can benefit your business/profession. I’m sure “gamers” will emerge to find success via social media, but these will be few and far between relative to the entire base of players.

And finally this gives us insight into where consumer attention and technology are going. To those engineers and technologists paving the way for augmented and virtual reality, they will find success if they’re smart enough and work hard enough.

Good luck to all!

Conclusion

Pokémon GOand augmented reality is a new platform that we’ve never seen before and has grabbed a huge chunk of consumer attention. And it’s going to grow much, much larger over the next 2-5 years. Those that follow consumer attention and technology will win. Those that can watch this behavior and identify ways to align with it or engage with it will win. Those that are open-minded enough to see these trends as opportunities, and not as just dumb little games that kids are playing, will win.

Remember when Facebook first came out, and you said to your friends “I’ll never use Facebook, it’s stupid”?

Pokémon go is the new Facebook. Pay attention.

John Timmerman
About the author

John Timmerman

John Timmerman is the founder of Good Monster, a digital agency in Syracuse, NY. He is a former strength & conditioning coach and personal trainer who has trained NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, UFC athletes, executives and everyone else for 10 years. When he's not burning the house down trying to cook up healthy ways to eat bacon, he's traveling and enjoying life to the fullest!