5 lessons learned from Pokémon GO

Pokémon GO, am I right? I’m sure people are sick and tired of discussing it, and we’ve sure written quite. A few. Articles. About it. Which is why I’m just going to get straight to my five points.

Content is key

The biggest lesson that Pokémon GO can teach app and game developers is that content is key. The key to Pokémon GO was the Pokémon. It’s entire content was based around creating a sense of nostalgia in twenty / thirty somethings, and a sense of excitement and adventure in those younger. When that sense of nostaliga and excitement started to fade, so did the interest in the app. I’m sure it’ll spike again when they introduce later generation Pokémon – once again feeding that sense of nostalgia and excitement with tasty Pokémoney content.

AR wasn’t the key to its success

And that point kind of leads on to this one. I firmly believe that AR will trump VR, in the long run. But I wouldn’t say that Pokemon GO was a success because it utilised AR. Yes, it used AR quite well. Yes, the whole thing was in fact an AR experience. BUT, I don’t think that the game was popular because of AR – it was popular because it was Pokémon. There’s definitely potential with AR and mobile games / apps – but try to replicate the success of Pokémon GO, without the Pokémon, and you’ll be in for a loss.

People will probably play anything with the word Pokémon in / on it

Nintendo has more than just Pokémon. I get that. But I’m convinced that people (mostly 90s kids) will play pretty much anything that revolves around Pokémon. Provided the app works, and looks familiar (i.e. kind of like the original cartoons and / or games and / or cards), you’ve got a guaranteed audience. If the game was similar to Pokémon but wasn’t actually Pokémon, it probably would have fallen flat on its face.

Nintendo still has legs (but maybe not with consoles)

Yes. I’m aware that Nintendo didn’t make this game. But that doesn’t change the fact that Pokémon is a Nintendo IP. Also, the game was developed with the help and backing of the Pokémon Company (owned by Nintendo) and Nintendo also have some substantial investments in Niantic. Either way. Pokémon GO should be seen as a success for Nintendo. One which came outside of their usual comfort zone. I’ve been saying for a long time that Nintendo should move away from their consoles flailing and instead develop their IPs for other platforms. And if the success of Pokémon go hasn’t made them seriously consider it, (for more than just a endless Mario runner on iOS) I don’t know what will.

The hype train never lasts

All good things must come to an end. And, whilst some people do still play Pokémon GO, the user base has been plummeting over the past couple of months. Perhaps it will peak again soon, if Niantic pull their fingers out and get to making some meaty new content. But I don’t think we’ll ever see it rise to the point it reached in the early summer. I loved my time playing Pokémon GO – but it wasn’t built for longevity.  Particularly as the USP is mostly based on re-igniting a sense of nostalgia.


That’s what I’ve learned from Pokémon GO. Anyway. Maybe you picked up some different lessons? (Other than how to cross a road, without looking, whilst trying to find that Pikachu which is “near you”). Let me know in the comments below!