Pokemon Go - The Phenomenon: A Fresh Approach to User Experience

20th Jul

It’s the summer of Pokémon.


A mobile app that combines reality with the digital world, encourages interaction and exploration, changes consumers’ behaviour and has grown bigger than Twitter in one week. Yes, we’re talking about the unbelievable phenomenon that is Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Go has become a global success in a matter of days, taking gamers from their living room to outside, chasing virtual creatures up and down the streets of the city.

The concept of the game is relatively simple: gamers use their smartphones to chase and collect Pokémon characters using Pokéballs in a real world setting. The map element has been created using Google Map data and the type of Pokémon you capture relates to the area you are in, i.e a water type Pokémon may appear near a lake or river. Pokéstops are crucial points, often disguised as landmarks or even houses. Here, the gamer can stock up on important items such as free Pokéballs. Got it?

The ins and outs of the game maybe a little confusing to those of us yet to catch Poké-fever, however, we’re in the minority, as the game has proved to be hugely popular and has sparked a surge in Nintendo’s market value by $7 billion in just three days. The app also hit the top spot of the App Store overnight. But, what is it about this throwback game that has made it such a phenomenal success so quickly?

The app started as an April Fools joke by Google (or possibly a very clever publicity stunt). The concept received such an incredible reception, that two years later, the prank became reality.

What makes Pokémon Go particularly unique, is that it offers users a real life gaming experience. It takes gamers from their sofas to the streets and the outdoors, enhancing their sense of adventure and involvement in the game. The game allows users to actively interact, whist socialising. Recently, there has been a community of gamers congregating in New York’s Central Park to capture rare Pokémon, talking about the game and generally interacting with each other. This allows gamers to come face to face with other gamers, rather than just communicating through a screen.

The real magic of Pokémon Go is that it creates a heightened real world experience, enhancing engagement and building a bond with the gamer. The user is so involved in the game, that it becomes almost an obsession to catch these virtual creatures, whilst the game blends reality with the digital world.

As well as heightening our perception of reality, Pokémon Go has tapped into every Millennial's soft spot for Pikachu.The game creates nostalgia for the late 90’s/early 00’s and transports the gamer back to the days in the playground swapping and trading Pokémon cards. This forms a valuable emotional connection with the gamer, that initially lures them in, and then the  addictive quality of the game keeps the player engaged.

At first, Nintendo were reluctant to adopt mobile gaming into their strategy, as they were trying keep the buzz for old school gaming alive. However, with Pokémon Go, not only have they reinvigorated the landscape of augmented reality and mobile gaming, they have built an emotive connection (based on nostalgia and through real and digital experience and user interaction), that is widely accessible to users around the globe. This takes experiential and interactive marketing to whole new dizzy heights. With the sector now pushing boundaries in technology that have never been seen before, it’s time to think like Nintendo and get creative, innovative and original, building brand experiences that appeal to the thoughts, behaviour and emotions of the consumer, all whilst offering something new, exciting and fresh. If there is one thing Nintendo have shown us here, it's that it's not just about keeping up anymore, it's about pushing the bar higher and higher, and that innovation is key to brand success.

Read how we created an engaging and compelling experience for H&M here.

Read more from The Flash Pack blog section here.