Pokemon Go: What can mobile gaming learn from Pokemania?

James Nickerson
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Popularity Of Nintendo's New Augmented Reality Game Pokemon Go Drives Company Stock Up
Nintendo was forced to innovate in the face of competition (Source: Getty)

From a mass of people cradling their phone in the streets, to office chatter being centred around one trend and everyone's Facebook feeds filled the brim of it, no-one can get enough of Pokemon Go.

That's why near half a million people in the UK alone have downloaded it, sending it to the too of the app store charts.

Read more: The Pokemon Go effect? This startup powering AR has landed millions

What's behind its success?

“The secret to the success is that Pokémon Go’s developers utilised a variety of different technologies to create an experience that first and foremost executed on its primary objective, which was entertainment," says Michelle Evans, digital consumer manager at Euromonitor.

Read more: Pokemon Go has already shot to the top of the UK app charts

She says that neither the technologies nor commerce took centre stage. "Instead developers focused on creating the ultimate online-to-offline experience that gripped the imagination of its participants. From there, the popularity of the game has driven commerce, but that occurred as a byproduct of the participant engaging in the game first, not the other way around."

Euromonitor thinks that the mobile in-game purchases will grow by 20 per cent to reach $29.8bn (£22.3bn) in 2016.

(Source: Note: Euromonitor Passport Toys and Games 2016. Mobile games retail sales value and include sales tax. Shown in Current Terms)

So what can the industry learn from Pokemon Go's rapid ascent?

It can learn this, according to Evans: "The future growth of commerce will be rooted in highly engaging scenarios like gamification or social media that will capture and retain the attention of up-and-coming consumers. The brands that can insert themselves into the game or conversation without seeming intrusive or pushing a hard sell will be the ones most likely to win.”

Note: Euromonitor Passport Toys and Games 2016. Hand-held consoles retail sales value and include sales tax. Shown in Current Terms

Research analyst Hianyang Chan said that Nintendo's success stems from the fact it was forced to innovate in the face of competition from Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

He said: "Nintendo was forced to innovate. In early 2015, the president of Nintendo, Mr Satoru Iwata, announced plans to enter the mobile gaming industry, a significant move to show the new direction the company was heading towards. Historically, Nintendo was unwilling to embrace the growing influence of mobile gaming. However, the shifts in video game hardware for both casual and serious gamers were difficult to ignore.”

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