Just when we thought we’d heard the last of Nintendo, Pokémon GO has thrown us back to their gaming glory days. Pokémon GO saw more than 10 million downloads within its first week of release and now has more daily active users than Twitter. But this by no means was a viral fluke created by Niantic, The Pokémon Company and Nintendo. Each stakeholder had something to offer and something to gain to create what is now one of the best apps in the mobile age (so far).
The Nintendo Story
For Nintendo, a major stakeholder in The Pokémon Company, gaming consoles were their forte. Those of us lucky enough would have gotten their hands on Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii and handheld consoles Game Boy and Nintendo DS – just to name a few of the company’s success stories. But over the last few years, Nintendo has been smashed in the home console market by competitors PlayStation and XBox, which has left Nintendo with not much else but their game franchises, Super Mario Bros. and Super Smash Bros.
There was also one other party that Nintendo were a little late to – gaming on mobile (although you could say that the Game Boy was a kind of mobile device…) With more games and apps on mobile distracting users, there were just not enough hands for the average person to keep up with a Nintendo DS and smartphone. Moreover, accessibility to the internet gave way for virtual realities that were not only fun but social and instantaneous. So many of us put down our Game Boys and Nintendo DS and jumped into the online universe that social media offered – via mobile of course.
The Pokémon Story
For a significant part of Nintendo’s fame, Pokémon was almost a language spoken by millennials around the world. They scavenged, collected and battled it out on Gameboys and Nintendo DS consoles, traded Pokémon cards, and watched episodes of it on TV before and after school. But once we broke out of virtual reality and into the big wide world of social media, we soon forgot Pokémon and gave our trading cards away to our little siblings and cousins.
The Niantic Story
Google-funded start-up, Niantic is lead by John Hanke, a pioneer of Google Earth, Maps and Street View. So it’s no surprise that he’s gone ahead and made serious use of the geo-data collected over the years with Google and his other geo-based multiplayer online (MMO) game, Ingress. When he saw the potential from the viral Pokémon April Fools Day stunt on Google Maps, he was convinced that there was a game idea in there somewhere.
The User Story
Hanke used the two years in development to hunt for PokéStop and Gym locations around the world to be featured, using user-generated points in Niantic’s game, Ingress. Players of Ingress are prompted to make suggestions of where they think they should be playing the game, which saved John and the Niantic team from having to travel every corner of the globe to take photos.
The Forces Combined = ULTIMATE POWER
With Nintendo’s investment, power branding from The Pokémon Company, Niantic’s access to geo-based data, and input from their target audience, project Pokémon GO was go. The result is an app that is on-point and on-target in almost every way possible for all involved parties – Nintendo, The Pokémon Company and Niantic and even you, the user (don’t deny, we know you’re on it). Millions have started their Poké-Journeys – we’re watching closely to see just where it takes them.
What we know is this: you haven’t heard the last of Nintendo, or this geo-based style of gaming…