You might be familiar with this sight on the streets of Wisconsin last week: People anywhere from age 10 to 30+ concentrating intently on their smartphone screen, as if they’re taking a video or a picture, occasionally swiping their finger in upward motions. People walking in herds or alone; especially concentrated around various landmarks downtown. Chances are they are the latest users of Pokemon GO, released as a free app on Apple iOS and Android has taken the world by storm, catapulting itself since it’s launch two weeks ago to #1 on both app stores, greater daily active users than Twitter, Instagram, and other social media outlets.
This video on the other hand directly illustrates the power of the game to draw people to a geographic location. Taken at Central Park (NYC) the reports of an appearance of a valuable Pokemon caused a mini-stampede!
But, what is it exactly?
Pokemon GO is the first major smartphone video game installment of a billion + franchise spanning the last twenty years. It was generally restricted in the past to dedicated handheld Nintendo consoles involving “trainers” who travel the world to catch varied monsters called Pokémon — rats, dragons, and other cartoon characters — and use these critters to train and fight each other…still following along?
Interestingly, its userbase is not typically your adolescents and teenagers, in fact, considering the heyday of the Pokemon game series was around 15 years ago, the most prominent userbase is 20-35-year-olds. Early reports also suggest that more than 40% of adults who have downloaded the game are 25 and older. Nostalgia amongst these older Millenials has been cited as a major driver for its smashing success.
Unlike previous versions of the game that were self-contained within an imaginary universe, this utilizes “Augmented Reality” and GPS to overlay the game mechanisms directly on top of physical streets and landmarks in the city. Which means players have to walk/bike/drive extensively across the streetscape to track down the Pokemon and are especially visiting pre-identified landmarks (e.g: Gore Park, Churches, City Hall and other landmarks have special value) where Pokemon cluster in higher numbers and value.
The game officially launched in Canada on July 17th and has shot to the top of app store rankings. There are several opportunities for businesses to engage with this foot traffic, especially in concentrated downtown districts or near prominent landmarks.
Which is why you’re reading this blog on the the Greater Union Grove Area Chamber’s website!
Here are some suggestions from other communities:
Before we conclude the blog, there is an inevitable “Is Pokemon GO a temporary fad?” question.
Experts are divided on this subject but the majority are optimistic on its longevity after considering Nintendo’s deep collection of gaming intellectual property that hasn’t moved over to the mobile verse yet. However, regardless of its shelf life as a viral phenomenon, the unprecedented adoption curve has created an immediate opportunity for businesses in the Greater Union Grove Area to open their doors and build bonds with brand new foot traffic for a low cost.
Even if Pokemon Go traffic fades after several months from now, the customers that you meet today are going to remember you tomorrow.
We’d love to hear any stories from businesses in the Greater Union Grove Area that are already engaging!