Pokétopia or bust

I came across this article on LinkedIn today. I completely related to it. I’m a bit older than the Pokémon natives myself. Never even understood the fascination with the game in the past. But, my younger coworkers were talking after the Pokémon Go app came out and I, too, saw Twitter blow up over the game. So I downloaded it on July 6 as well. I happen to work with a bunch of software developers, so I could get good tips as we all blundered around the office gardens looking for Caterpies and such.

What impresses me so much about this game is the strategy that is behind it. Nintendo needed a boost. And a boost it got – shares jumped 25 percent in a week. That’s crazy, but awesome. But the strategy is near perfection for today’s society.

Since I was a young one and video games were just coming onto the scene, the complaint has always been the same. “You’re rotting your brain. You’re going to get fat just sitting in front of the TV playing that game.” Given, Atari Pong or electronic football probably didn’t have the same long-term appeal as later video games, but the worry was already there. And it only grew.

It took some time, but they reversed it. Nintendo not only revamped one of its more successful games but it turned the “problem with video games” on its head. You can’t play this game if you’re not moving or just sitting in your room. Well, you can but it’s a much slower process and not nearly as entertaining. It’s getting kids, and might I add adults, outside – walking. It took video games’ biggest downside and made it the solution. I’m just so in awe of that.

And, the younger generations … well, let’s just say that looking outside their own reality is maybe not one of their greatest strengths. But this game becomes part of their reality. It’s genius really. And it takes those “gamer types” from the younger generations, those who sit in their rooms all day, and it gets them moving, gets them outside and more importantly, gets them interacting with others in real time. Hallelujah, I say.

But think about social media, too. The complaint there is that people have insincere interactions, not real connections, and it isolates as much as it brings people together. This game taps into that as well. Even though social media focuses on real people exchanging real information – it’s distant. Pokémon Go is a virtual reality, basically, but it manages to mix virtual with reality by getting you outside. And it has, at least initially, created a phenomenon that is resulting in real interactions. It gives people who normally would not connect something in common.

For example, I am not the outgoing type, but I personally walked around my office park and talked to random strangers (although they actually worked for my company, I later found out) about the game. They explained to me eggs and incubators. I would not have had that conversation had it not been for this game and likely would have never met those people in my own company I’m sad to say.

I’m not saying Pokémon Go will change the world and we will become one big happy Pokétopia. But Pokémon Go is a game changer (yes, I said it). It shows how companies should better focus their strategies – to make use of the negative. So many companies ignore that until they simply can’t ignore it any more. Look at the negatives, understand them and incorporate them into your product so that they are no longer negatives. As a marketer who has to pull in that market information – good and bad – and try to drive movement in a given direction based on that data, this game is huge and an example to live by in my opinion.

And as marketing goes, the author of the LinkedIn article was absolutely right. Augmented reality will change everything one day. We think the world is highly customized now, and highly interactive, but when every brand experience you have is based on your own reality … mind-blowing, right?


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