Nintendo have changed the game, literally. Last Wednesday, Nintendo released the PokemonGo App, allowing users to catch Pokemon in the world around them in plain sight. In less than a week the reception it received has been nothing short of groundbreaking. In just a few days, the App has surpassed crowd favorite Tinder (don't worry, you'll still find love), and is about to surpass social media heavyweight Twitter (slay) for daily active usage.
This new cultural phenomenon has even impacted the stock market, with Nintendo stock rising a staggering 30%. For those who hung on supporting their childhood gaming heroes, you’re in for a serious pay day. But, the question comes to mind, why is it so big(?), and what could possibly stop it getting any bigger? Put expected lagging connection aside, we at Soul believe this will be the most successful application of all time, due to three major marketing initiatives that the application offers that no other does.
The Demographic is broad.
For a large portion of my childhood, Pokemon took over my interests more than any other franchise before it and after it. I, like every kid at the time, was completely encapsulated by the adventures of Ash, Misty and Brock (how did he see?), and the animated universe around them. That was 20 years ago; yet, even today, when I see anything Pokemon related sprawled over the web, I stop to check it out.
Truthfully, a lot of the Pokemon now aren't the same from “my day”, I would struggle to name you a handful, but I still look, because, like everyone else, Pokemon played a large role in my life growing up. It is for this reason that PokemonGo has developed itself into this interactive juggernaut. For 20 years, a new wave of Pokemon lovers emerges frequently, the Pokemon themselves change, but the fans don't, they're hooked from the get go. Unlike its competitors, Pokemon’s demographic expands far beyond the realms of millennials writing statuses every time they leave their room, or swiping right every time you see a pretty face, PokemonGo brings both an air of fun and nostalgia to its user.
It's bridging the gap between virtual world and real life, but costs nothing (except mobile usage, naturally).
Gaming in the coming years is looking to head towards a new age of interactivity. Later this year, Sony will release its PS4VR, a virtual reality system allowing users to feel as though they are in the game. What's the catch? It's incredibly expensive, and only works on the premise that you own a Playstation. In contrast, PokemonGo, is free (everybody already has a mobile); Nintendo has offered people VR (Virtual Reality) gaming for no added cost, and in return have completely shaken up the application market. Look above to see the photo of the Pidgey in our office yesterday. The dream for every child growing up was for Pokemon, to be real. It may not be tangible, but this is the closest we have ever been achieving that dream we all once had as a child. To be honest, I still have it now.
Another reason for PokemonGo being so lauded is its engagement is dependant on people getting out of the house. The stigma associated with today's obsession with gaming technology, namely with today's youth, is that it promotes laziness, and a complete lack of physical exercise in critical years for physical development. To be a PokemonGo master, you need to travel. With pokemon spread out all over the nation, users have been getting out of the house, walking distances beyond their usual routine, in an attempt to “catch-em all”.
Sure, people are still glued to their phones, which can no doubt become hazardous, but people are getting exercise and still being able to interact with the game they love. No other gaming console can offer their user the same benefits, more recently we have even seen reports that PokemonGo has been helpful for those dealing with mental illness. Crazy right? Not particularly when the application has encouraged a level of social interaction that is predecessors have not. When people are out there hunting pokemon, there is a level of camaraderie that has ingrained itself in this PokemonGo culture. Everyone, not being constrained to the confines of their home, are part of something, and have a common interest with the stranger next to them. They are no longer a reflection of their illness, they are a pokemon trainer, it has given people an extra feeling of entitlement they perhaps lost. This feeling of acceptance and social building has already proved beneficial to so many struggling internally; not bad for a kids game right?
Twenty years ago, I was given my first deck of Pokemon cards. A few years later, my first Gameboy. There are things we take in as children that stay with us forever, for me, like many evidently, it was Pokemon. Finally, we have been given a chance to get involved again, and whether you're a veteran engulfed in feelings of nostalgia, or a young kid playing it on your parent's smartphone, this application has opened up a world for you that you for so long, wish existed. Its real, it's arrived, and I don't see it leaving.