Learning to Build Bigger: Lessons from Pokémon Go

Learning to Build Bigger: Lessons from Pokémon Go

Posted on July 21, 2016 0 Comments
Learning to Build Bigger Lessons from Pokemon Go_870x220

What can the incredible success of Pokémon Go teach us about digital business? It pays to combine innovation with safety and the right technology partnership.

Don’t laugh at those giddy folks wandering the streets playing Pokémon Go. Rather than seeing them as silly gamers taking part in a fad, view them as beacons of opportunity. Together they are engaged consumers thirsty for technology that fuses their need for low-risk experiential entertainment, with technology they own and a fantasy game they love. That confluence can likewise be your roadmap to success.

Deconstructing the Sensation

Stripped to its bare elements, there’s nothing earth shattering about the Pokémon Go. That’s the beauty. This is not a breakthrough in VR technology, and yet it does break boundaries—never has a mobile game caused so much interaction with the real world, or spawned such creative marketing.

The genius lies in how the application takes available technologies and weaves them together in an inventive way, while adding a new social dimension. While gamers often play in isolation or in virtual groups, Pokémon Go transcends these conventions expanding into an entirely new real-world community construct leveraging fantastic geo-location. Stuck inside for so long, the outside world beckoned, and Pokémon Go was there to answer.

From an application perspective, it combined a popular fantasy game with a good UI, inventive geo-targeting courtesy of Google, mobile technology and omnipresent smartphones. It comprises a powerful mix of past nostalgia, present hardware and a futuristic dose of augmented reality that reaches virtually all consumers. Zero barrier to entry was a huge plus to fuel the craze.

Build Your Own Phenomenon

The wild success of this game has more than doubled the market value of Nintendo, adding over $21 billion. The moment McDonalds Japan announced they’d have Pokemon Happy Meals, their stock jumped 23%—and the game isn’t even out in Japan. While it can be difficult to predict the twists and turns in the world of app dev, it pays to be ready with the right technology and the right partnerships. Hitting a home run like this can have serious financial results.

So how do businesses extract learning from this phenomenon and apply those to transform their own fortunes?

  • Start with the customer: Examine their business in a 360 degree holistic way. What need do they have that’s not being met? How do they operate? What are they trying to accomplish? How can they do it differently? What technology can help?
  • Bark without the Bite: Face it: people and companies are risk-averse. It’s rare that one can be trendsetting innovator while safely ensconced in the mass of humanity known as the early-majority. It’s like going over class-5 rapids in a plastic bubble. Make people feel edgy while being safe, and you’ve got a technology winner.
  • Hurry up and plan: Work with urgency, but do your homework first. No sense starting your technology journey without a solid plan. Pokémon Go is nothing if not well conceived and well executed. Your success depends on both.
  • Time it Right: Look at the market and your customers, and consider any relevant cycles that could impact your company’s success. The success of Pokémon Go would have been greatly reduced if launched in competition with other technology and pop-culture distractions. Bored teenagers and adults looking for summer distractions were just the ticket.

From the board room to the home office, those tasked with development need to stay on the lookout for their next opportunity. Overnight success is rarely achieved in a day. It is the hard-fought result of innovative thinking, planning, a fantastic technology foundation and a little bit of luck. Best to put your fortunes in the hands of the right technology partner. Lady luck can be fickle. 

Paulette Stout Progress

Paulette Stout

An all-around fabulous marketing veteran of both corporate and nonprofit sectors, and principal at Media Goddess Inc., Paulette is an enthusiastic champion of the written word. She has a strong background in content marketing, writing and strategy, and was also an award-winning media buyer-planner for top brands.


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