Can Pokémon Go be good for business?

Posted on July 21, 2016


The latest craze to hit the world is Pokémon Go, an app that allows users to go out and search for the miniature creatures through their mobile phones.

The game is based on the popular Japanese cartoon series that swept an entire generation of kids in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.

The app was released in the UK officially on Thursday 14th July for Android and iOS devices. It was first launched a week earlier in the US, Australia and New Zealand and is now available in more than 35 countries, with Niantic, the app’s developers, planning to release it in more countries in the near future.

The Pokémon franchise had been previously known for the television series and the games it had developed for consoles such as the Gameboy and Nintendo DS, which allowed users to explore a virtual world searching for Pokémon and challenging other trainers to battles.

It has now been redeveloped into an app which brings players closer to becoming a real life Pokémon trainer than ever.

How does the game work?

The game is a location-based mobile game that uses augmented reality. The aim of the game is to catch Pokémon (since the tagline for the franchise is “Gotta catch’em all!”) and train them to become stronger and conquer other trainers in Pokémon battles.

Once a user has downloaded the app, they can then create their own avatar, giving it a personalised name and selecting its appearance.

After this, the player then gets the opportunity to capture their first Pokémon. This is one of the traditional starter Pokémon from the original Gameboy games – Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur.

To capture any Pokémon, a user will have to roam around town with the app open, and it will signal when one of the creatures is nearby. The Pokémon will then appear on the map, prompting a user to click it to engage in the capture screen. A user then uses their finger to swipe the screen, which throws a Pokéball at the Pokémon. The player will have to demonstrate excellent swiping accuracy as the monster will attempt to move out of the way, or the Pokéball will miss if the throw is inaccurate.

Users can then challenge gyms by battling the Pokémon of other trainers in order to gain control of the gym and claim it for one of the three teams the player selects once they hit level 5. Players can pick up items such as Pokéballs and Pokémon eggs by visiting real world destinations – labelled – as a Pokéstop on their quest to become the best.

A great success

The game has proved to be vastly popular from the word go, with people of all ages downloading the app and playing the game. This includes a couple of us here at Engage Web!

Niantic has experienced multiple crashes to its servers due to millions of people trying to download the app and play the game at once. Statistics have even showed that the app has become more popular than dating app Tinder and has its sights set on overtaking social media platform Twitter in terms of popularity.

The app has even gone as far as creating Pokémon Go Plus, whereby a user can have a Bluetooth-powered wearable device that allows them to sync it up to their phone. It will then vibrate and alert the user when a Pokéstop is nearby, or when a wild Pokémon is close. This device is not yet on the market, but it is set to be released in coming weeks.

The benefits of the app

As well as being hugely popular, many people are raving about the app and how it differs to the traditional app. The one main talking point that differentiates it from other apps of its kind is that it encourages people to go outside and walk around. Therefore, the app could technically help all government initiatives that aim to tackle childhood obesity, because those who use the app will have to be active in order to succeed in the game. For example, a player must walk a distance of 2km, 5km or 10km to hatch a Pokémon egg.

Unlike many games, it promotes socialisation, as players battle each other to level up and take control of Pokémon Gyms in the area.

How can businesses benefit from Pokémon Go?

A recent article from Forbes analyses the marketing benefits of the app to everyday businesses. One of the main draws is that a business can attract players to the business by setting up a Pokéstop on or near their premises. This has already been an objective for many businesses who have already taken advantage of this feature.

The second step that Forbes suggested businesses can take to attract Pokémon Go players is to offer them a charging station. Players using the app must keep it open when they are out and about, so it can be very draining on the battery life of a mobile phone. By offering this as a service, players could become likely to use your premises as a real life Pokéstop.

Other suggestions include hosting gym battles, giving tips and suggestions to players, and using lures – an item within the game that attracts Pokémon to the area for a certain amount of time. This will mean that players come flooding to you in order to catch that elusive Geodude or to rest and recharge when they feel a bit Drowzee.

Pokémon Go is taking the world by storm and, if you can manage to incorporate it into your business’ marketing strategy for a little while, then you are likely to expose yourself to a new market and may even pick up a few new customers on the way. Using social media to latch on to popular talking points in the game is also a sure way to generate some new followers.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Weedle on my desk and I need to go and catch it!

Operations Manager at Engage Web
Drawing from a broad pool of experience that ranges from university studies in English Language to his work as a medical receptionist in a busy GP practice, Alan fits right at home as Engage Web’s Operations Manager.
Alan Littler
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