Should I Stay or Should I Pokémon Go? Lessons to Learn from the Pocket Monster Revival

Hi. My name is Adam and I am about to write yet another Pokémon Go article. Yes, I know, the internet (and very possibly your office, neighborhood or campus) has been filled with nothing but talk of Pikachu and friends for the past few days, but there are some important nuggets of information you may have missed among the melee of memes and social media posts from Poke-evangelists and denouncers alike.


Whenever something captures the zeitgeist, for no matter how brief a time, we have to take a step back and ask a few questions. What is Pokémon Go, anyway? For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go takes the wildly popular video game/trading card/cartoon franchise that debuted in Japan some 20 years ago, and puts them, for the first time ever, on your cell phone. Though this may seem like an insignificant bullet point that a marketing person may throw at the end of a list of the game’s features, it’s anything but. You see, Pokémon games were only available on Nintendo’s Game Boy and DS handheld platforms until this point, which limited their reach greatly. We all have cell phones, though. With this nearly universal availability and a healthy dose of nostalgia from adults who grew up with these recognizable (and cute…there, I said it) characters, it’s pretty easy to see how this game had the potential to be huge.

IMG_2328But it’s not just the nostalgia and proliferation of cell phones that has made this game catch the hearts and minds (or hate and chagrin) of your entire Facebook feed. This game, whether you like it or not, has done some interesting things in the tech that are baked right into your phone. Though the traditional Pokémon games would have you controlling a two-dimensional avatar on a virtual quest to capture, train and eventually beat the best Pokémon trainers in the fictional world presented therein, Pokémon Go provides a much more pared down version of that experience, removing the battle mechanics to instead focus on the collecting and upgrading (called evolving) of Pokémon. Only, you’re not navigating a character on a screen with the press of a directional pad — no, sir — you have to get your butt out of that loveseat and start kicking rocks in real life, searching your surroundings for Pokémon, using an accurate (albeit cartoonish) map pulled using your phone’s GPS technology. Once engaged in an attempt to capture a Pokémon, your phone allows you to actually see the little monster sitting on the sidewalk, flying above your backyard pool or sitting precariously close to your dog. Of course, there is not an actual Pokémon sitting there, but what’s called augmented reality (AR) allows it to appear that way by utilizing your phone’s camera and a bit of positional awareness.

Neither AR nor GPS is anything new — in fact, mobile games have toyed with these features for a few years now. However, none have had the power of nostalgia and brand recognition to back up the concepts they touted.

Pokémon Go

Though it may seem like a gigantic waste of time to go wandering around your neighborhood or local park in search of imaginary creatures, the Pokémon Go craze has yielded some surprisingly positive wins.


Pokémon No

What’s the catch, you ask? Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, and the launch of Pokémon Go was a bit rocky. Plagued with frequent server issues and a rather svelte offering of in-game content, even those most excited for its release may have had a few setbacks on their Pokémon hunt. However, there are a few, much larger issues beyond the mechanics of the game itself.


Pocket {Marketing} Monsters

From a business and marketing perspective, we can pull a few thoughts from Pokémon Go’s pros and cons.


Will Pokémon Go last? That all depends on what Naintic and company do from here. If they continue to support the game with additional content, a healthy dose of respect for the Pokémon brand and sound strategies that speak to their fans, there’s a good chance this mobile Pokémon renaissance is just getting started.