Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 at 4:28pm
After a spectacular launch onto smartphones across the U.S., New Zealand and Australia, the cartoon creatures of the Pokémon Go universe last week found their way onto the shores, and in the streets, parks and buildings, of the UK.
Already the fastest game to top the App Store in history, making an estimated $1.6million a day from iPhone users in the U.S. alone and more than doubling the share prices of parent company, Nintendo, the augmented reality game now has more users than dating app, Tinder and more daily users than Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The R-rated app can even be credited with saving Google’s (sometimes shaky) virtue, as searches for Pokémon Go have overtaken X-rated terms by 33%.
Not a bad achievement for a game that is less than two weeks old, I’d say.
Although the obvious dream for every marketer is to have their product go viral in some shape or form, and full-scale marketing divisions spend countless hours and chunks of their budget in attempting to orchestrate this success, there is a widespread belief that it comes down to one simple thing: luck.
Although yes, luck does play some part in the success of viral content, as more and more research suggests, there’s a lot more than simply clicking upload and crossing your fingers. There is, in fact, a great deal to consider when reviewing the feasibility of your content in creating an online frenzy.
So what can we attribute to the meteoric success of these weird and wonderful creatures on our smartphone screens?
Firstly, there’s no doubt that the app, both literally and figuratively, plays directly into the hands of a nostalgic and digital-savvy Generation Y. Whilst younger millennials are constantly in touch with digital fads and trends, for equally switched-on older millennials, Pokémon was a staple part of their childhood experience and although these would-be trainers put away their Pokédex for the time being, they never truly retired from the game.
Even for those who are new to the Pokémon universe, there are plenty of features to draw you in regardless. Despite the fact it’s a great way to explore the outside world, for the first time we are now experiencing what is a near seamless blend of the digital world and the physical space around you through the app’s augmented reality technology. Although location-aware apps such as Uber and Tinder are already in the mainstream, this is taking the practice to a whole new scale we have not yet seen before.
With a new launch in a new country every day, the hysteria surrounding the game is currently at fever pitch. But as with everything, what goes up must come down, so what can be said of the longevity of viral content such as this?
On first opening the app, players are given a few instructions on how to catch Pokémon and then are left to explore the outside world on their own, which is where the problems start. As well as the app design itself being less than slick and not particularly well-produced, news has been circulating of obsessive users trespassing in restricted areas, and the BBC reported that two teenagers playing Pokémon Go late at night in their car in Florida were shot at by a homeowner who had mistaken them for burglars.
As such, negative press around the game has been circulating almost as quickly as the positive, which is less than good considering the launch itself was equally fraught with complications. Reports of overstretched servers, system hacking from both users and hacker groups dominated the news and within the last 24 hours, we have heard reports of hacker group, PoodleCorp, threatening to execute a full system shutdown on August 1st. Given the sudden and colossal scale of success for a brand even now only in its infancy, it comes as little surprise that other brands would look to quickly ‘cash-in’ on it by developing and presenting to the media a negative spin to hook a timely story onto.
For a programme launched with little to no marketing budget and with the growing reports of Pokémon hunting gone wrong, there is very little to carry on this massive momentum and we could expect to see the game slip out of everyday dialogue in the coming weeks, not months.
So how can businesses jump on the fast-moving bandwagon before it disappears into the proverbial sunset?
More and more people are starting to acknowledge the importance of using social and digital media to reach younger, tech-savvy audiences, and some enterprising business owners have already capitalised on their status as points of interest by signposting nearby Pokémon to generate a greater footfall. For those lucky few whose businesses double up as an in-game PokéStop, there is a great opportunity to generate targeted sales opportunities as crowds of dedicated players will naturally flock to your door.
There are varying degrees of going viral and, for most businesses, the scale of Pokémon Go is something that can only be dreamt of in company brainstorm sessions. However, this is not to say that an explosion of immediate interest is necessarily what is best for your product or business if there is no way to sustain the created momentum you so desperately sought to achieve.
The real challenge for the team at Niantic and Nintendo is just beginning, as they tackle a significantly harder step-two of the game launch: how to keep the giant Pokéball rolling…