In the 5 days since its July 6th launch, Pokemon Go has become the most downloaded mobile game in the U.S., overtaking the top spot in both Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store.
Although technology analysts have predicted the rise of mobile augmented reality (AR) applications for many years, marketers have been wary of investing in mobile AR campaigns. Pokemon Go's success underscores how people of all ages may one day play social mobile games and branded social experiences.
Brands and Marketing Campaigns Can Learn From Pokemon Go's Success
Greenlight previously discussed the benefits of mobile AR for marketing campaigns in a recent post. Now, Pokemon Go has sparked optimism throughout the mobile AR industry.
Andrew Kirkland, head of business development at Candy Lab, which develops private-label, location-based AR mobile apps, said the success of Pokemon Go has helped energize clients.
"The Pokemon Go app was the perfect beta for large scale location-based AR... they've had all sorts of issues due to the sheer amount of users but no one cares. Users are having so much fun." Kirkland said. "Because it's simply a game, users have been more willing to look past some of the initial bugs."
Mobile AR is a Social Experience
The most exciting feature of Pokemon Go is its social mechanisms. The app itself does not encourage player-to-player interactivity like the original handheld console game, but users have taken to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit to share experiences. "Pokemania" has taken over users' lives as they have shared on social media the incredible lengths they are taking to "catch them all."
Users are also taking photos of the AR Pokemon in their real world environment, sharing photos on social media as well. Pokemon Go is popular because it lives out a dream that fans had since the franchise first appeared in the 90's: catching Pokemon in real life. The game revived the franchise with AR capabilities and real world GPS tracking.
Pokemon's Popularity Validates the Mobile AR Opportunity
In just a few days, Pokemon Go has been downloaded more times than Tinder, according to SimilarWeb, and users are spending more time in the app than WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat (over 43 minutes). Soon, the game may also have more daily active users than Twitter.
The explosive popularity of Pokemon highlights the value of AR gaming. Consumers not only enjoy Pokemon Go, they understand it. The high user activity proves the consumer understanding of how the game works, and more than validated the market for AR mobile applications.
"Pokemon Go has been huge for our industry," Kirkland said. "Pokemon has proven that we as consumers will gladly go from point A to point B immersed in this type of experience." Pokemon Go has already expanded Nintendo's stock market value $9 billion, according to Wall Street Journal. This surge is predicted to only grow as the game is expanded to more countries.