Pokémon is not a subject you’d expect to find on a website which deals in business strategy and tech innovation. However, the advent of Pokémon Go this week has changed, not only the way gamers interact with the real world, but also how mobile devices will be seen for generations to come.
The game uses Augmented Reality, to allow gamers to collect characters from the original anime series, however, these characters exist in real locations and in the real world. Gamers use the screen of their phone and GPS to hunt down Pokémon, trap, and train them. In other words, you see the Pokémon in “real life,” on the screen of your phone, hiding behind a tree, standing on the footpath or resting on a park bench. Already, the uptake and newsworthiness of the game has been profound, as experienced gamers, and rookies alike, engage in what is a uniquely immersive experience in a world that is not artificial. In fact, people talk of bumping into fellow players who are trying to collect the same Pokémon, or seeing other gamers hunting in a similar area and pointing out where the elusive Pokémon may be hiding.
While for many, this innovation may seem like a pointless gimmick, the instant uptake and interest by global businesses has been phenomenal. This interest is due in no small part to the potential monetisation of the platform, and the opportunities associated with such profound engagement with participants. Likened by many to Facebook in early stages, this new platform has the potential to involve people of all ages, locations and economic circumstances. The game itself is free, with opportunities to purchase extras for a more immersive experience, and organisations around the world are already considering augmented reality options of their own as gamification in marketing intrudes, finally, in the real world.
On a practical level, augmented reality is far more accessible than virtual reality. Bricks and mortar businesses have the opportunity to use their existing infrastructure to engage more fully with customers and prospects. One pundit, has spoken of reception areas being the new website – as people waiting for a meeting can scan the room using their mobile phone and seek out information on the company, read useful content and even find entertaining distractions created by the business.
Monetisation could also extend to the external parts of the building, and most interestingly the interior of hospitality locations, with organisations restricted by traditional marketing laws, being able to blatantly advertise within bars and clubs using augmented reality.
Through literally changing the way we view the world, Pokémon Go is destined to go down in folklore, not as one of the most incredible games of all time, or the reinvigoration of a dated franchise, but the beginning of augmented reality as a mainstream vehicle for businesses, marketers, gamers, teachers and the world in general.