What to Take Away From Pokémon Go's Incredible Success


There’s a lot to learn from the meteoric rise of Pokémon Go. From the potential of establishing a clear brand identity to the newfound value in interactive, augmented reality driven design, it’s seeming more and more like this little phone game changed everything about the way that we live and work over night.

All of the stories of kids and adults who have been getting out in the Summer sun, exploring their towns and cities, and making friends are certainly encouraging. The hours of productivity lost to Pokémon hunting at work are decidedly less so.

Still, you must admire what Nintendo and Niantic have been able to accomplish in a scant few weeks since their product launched. The fastest growing app in history, a 7.5 billion dollar boost to Nintendo’s market value, and an incredible amount of microtransaction sales as it remains on the tip top of the App Store’s gross revenue list — beating perennial favorites like Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga.

That’s all great for them, but what does it mean for the rest of us? How can we learn from Pokémon Go and begin applying its incredible success to our own products and ideas? Let’s try to dissect why this app has hit so big, and all the ways that you can begin working to follow in its footsteps, no matter the particular scope or shape of your own vision.

The first thing to keep in mind is that this wasn’t Niantic first outing in the augmented reality realm. Savvy technology and gaming fans may be familiar with Ingress, the predecessor to Pokémon Go. Ingress never hit nearly the same success benchmarks as Pokémon Go. In fact, Pokémon Go surpassed the same gross revenue benchmark in a week that Ingress was sitting at after two and a half years.

We can take away two important points from this. First and foremost, brand matters. Pokémon Go owes much of its success to the enormous and long-standing popularity of its intellectual property. A brand that seemed to perfectly suit this new AR model developed by Niantic.

That said, the success of the app depended a great deal on the pathway that Ingress laid out. The very name ‘Ingress’ suits this fact so perfectly that it makes you wonder if the intention of the app all along was to pave the way for a Pokémon Go.

Niantic developed an infrastructure, a set of features, and systems for retention into Ingress. We can’t ignore the value of these elements. While it took Pokémon Go for it all to really coalesce into the perfect synthesis between brand and features, Ingress is proof that experience and dedicated feature development are the keys to make a product last.  

It’s clear that while a flashy concept certainly helps, these things matter too. Already Pokémon Go fans are calling for more features, and it’s critical that Niantic continue to develop and improve if this app is going to turn out to be more than just a Summer gimmick.

But there’s so much more to be mined from Pokémon Go than even that. We could talk about how it is proving the potential of AR and a swiftly growing paradigm of “digital playgrounds”, as Michael Schrage of HBR puts it. He believes that we can take away more from this success story than simply development in the AR medium. To him, Pokémon Go speaks more to the value of sleek and accessible user interaction across the whole scope of the UX (User Experience) industry.

We could talk about how Pokémon Go’s “lure system” is driving customers to local brick and mortar businesses that are around “Poké Stops.” Technology like this that adds a new layer to the world we already live in clearly has value to everyone from consumers to unaffiliated businesses. It is a market that still has plenty of room to grow, and it’s quickly looking like the wave of the future.

Let’s be certain that we don’t fall behind the curve.

— ZK 

Ed Lynes13p5Comment