Why Pokemon Go Works


Welcome to reality.

Pokemon Go has been an astounding—if not stunning—success. It's riding the wave of a nostalgia brand that's found new life with emerging tech. Why is it working and where could it go? Here are a few thoughts.

We've been doing a lot of "research" in the office.

We've been doing a lot of "research" in the office.

Experiences are better than things.

As I recently told Digiday, any time you can add a tangible layer to an experience, you’ll have a hit. It’s why people are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on concert tickets vs. just downloading a few songs for a few dollars. Pokemon Go has taken gaming out of the living room, onto the streets and highlighted the potential augmented reality has. 

It will breathe new life into retail.

It has also shown that AR is not just a fad but a tool brands can use to track preferences and habits in order to deliver more personalized experiences. Just think of the sponsorship and loyalty opportunities available when you're able to gamify retail and drive foot traffic into your store. It also looks like Pokemon Go has the potential to create a new batch of creative entrepreneurs

Retro works.

Retro brands work for a few reasons. Good or bad, they bring back memories for those of us who were around drinking Crystal Pepsi and playing Atari. They also have the power to tap into a whole new group of users. This week I've seen every demographic in New York City wandering around the crowded sidewalks playing Pokemon Go. 

It's going to renew conversations about privacy and safety.

Augmented reality is on the verge of becoming mainstream, and will require us to answer several questions about technology, data and privacy.

  1. Pokemon-Free Zones? Now that we're untethered and interacting with the world around us, what's the definition of digital space, who decides how it's used and what can individuals do to control it? We're already seeing institutions asking Pokemon Go users to stay away.
  2. How is my data being used? Niantic has come under fire for it's vague privacy policy and Senator Al Franken wants to see how it collects and uses data—particularly since Pokemon Go has a high number of kids using it. Franken is the same Senator who recently expressed concerns with how Oculus uses data the Rift collects. Oh, and speaking of privacy—don't catch and cheat.
  3. Don't catch and drive. Pokemon Go users are getting lost in cavescausing accidents, finding dead bodies, getting lured by criminals and forcing police departments and parcel services to issue warnings. Practice safe gaming.

We've written much about the potential uses for augmented reality and are excited to see how the Pokemon Go craze makes its adoption even easier. 


Eric Grant (@ericgrant) is Creative Director for the Razorfish Emerging Experiences team, based out of our New York office.

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