In my prior post, Pokémon Go #pokemongo, I gave my analysis of the game. And now Pokémon Go has grown into a world wide phenomenon.
This will be an update of that post because some things have changed since last week. [This post got wayyyy longer than I had planned for it to be.]
Let’s talk about Pokémon Go again…
I my last post I stated that Pokémon Go as making $1.6 million A DAY in the United States alone. It has been released in other markets and the new numbers are 30 million downloads of the app and $35 million dollars in revenue. Honestly, that is just plain absurd.
This doesn’t even factor into the Japanese Market yet because it hasn’t been released there… yet. However, is set to be released today in Japan. I would expect the Japanese market will eat it up since Pokémon originated there and mobile gaming in Japan has already matured as a market. Make no mistakes, Pokémon GO will be a monster in Japan *queue Godzilla theme here* as long as the Niantic has their server situation under control. However, here is the game-changer:
McDonald’s will be sponsoring Pokémon Go in Japan. It has 3000 locations in Japan, and I expect that this sponsorship will allow a combination of Lures and special Pokémon in and around McDonald’s location. If I were a gambler and a stock-picker, I’d have thrown some money into McDonald’s and Nintendo stocks. However, I’m not.
Ok, ok, ok so Pokémon Go is huge. What’s the point of this update?
There was an interesting question on Quora that I answered:
Since I had already kind of answered the question in my blog post, I just cut and pasted it in there.
However, my opinion has changed slightly. More so than that, I think Niantic’s and Nintendo’s plans have changed slightly. I think that both Niantic and Nintendo knew that Pokémon Go was going to be a success. How could it not be? The Pokémon name sells. They could have made a crap rip-off of another game and stuck Pokémon in it and it still would have had a million downloads. However, because they created a new genre of game with a level of immersion not previously imagined, Pokémon Go became a monster. Honestly, it became even a bigger monster than either Niantic or Nintendo could have predicted.
This was evident from the constant server crashes and significant glitches/bugs in the game, despite the long development/testing time. I am also going to backpeddle on my initial assessment regarding the approach to making Pokémon Go an enduring success:
I still believe Pokémon Go can be an enduring success for all the reasons I mentioned before. As long as they create new content in a reasonable time frame, seasons/ladder, trading, pokémon battles, etc.
Here’s the problem:
I don’t think Niantic and Nintendo care about it being an enduring success anymore. Pokémon Go is such a RIDICULOUS success out of the gate that they have already made insane profits. In order to make a game an enduring success, you will want to fix bugs and server issues before expanding. However, as you read above, that has not been the case. They expanded internationally and are moving into the Japanese market even more quickly.
The reason is simple: They don’t want the hype to die.
Currently, you can’t go anywhere without people talking about Pokémon Go. It’s a worldwide phenomenon. People who don’t play games -at all- at least know about it. It’s kind of like Angry Birds, people have this Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). Niantic and Nintendo recognized the need to capitalize on the hype as quickly as possible. There are a few reasons for this:
The game is a grind. Not at level 1, or even level 20. But at level 25+, 30+, 40+, etc. the experience needed for the next level increases exponentially.
Look at that link: To go from level 30 to level 31, you need 350,000 exp. To put that in perspective, that’s MORE exp than to go from level 1 to level 22. You want everyone to experience that level 1-22 phase of the game as quickly as possible because it is addictive. Rewards abound. Lures are everywhere. New Pokémon are everywhere. Extra exp for a new Pokémon found.
Then you hit level 25 or so… and… not many new Pokémon to be found. You’re all out of Lures and now you need so much exp that you really need to go to at least a Pokéstop that has 2 or more Pokéstops near it which all have lures in order to find enough Pokémon for it to be worth your time.
If I had to guess, around level 20-25 is when the casual gamer will get bored and leave. They had their fun and maybe evolved a Vaporeon or Gyarados and they can’t be bothered with grinding more levels and spending money on more Lures to get more Pokémon. This brings me to my next point. Early on in the game, you get a few free Lures to try them out and you see just how powerful they are at low levels. So casual gamer may spend $5-10 to buy some. There is so much value to a Lure at low levels, you may get 1, 2 or even 3 levels from using a single Lure. This value decreases significantly as you level because you require so much more experience.
However, at this point I don’t think it matters anymore. Their priorities have shifted into taking advantage of its status as a world-wide phenomenon and cash in as quickly as possible. The rest of the world and Japan will respond the same way the US has with everyone dropping Lures and spending a few bucks to buy more Lures and get to level 20 and 25… and then…?
At that point I think Niantic/Nintendo will need to decide whether they want to invest heavily into its staying power, or just kind of run it on auto-pilot, running through various large sponsorships. McDonald’s, then Burger King, then Taco Bell, etc. etc. This alone will probably be sufficient to milk money out of players for quite a while.
However… if they really DO want to try to preserve its staying power… then Niantic and Nintendo will need to add something to recapture the casual market, or Pokémon Go will die off when the next new fad hits, and they will need to address the below:
Gym battles are underwhelming… and not really skill-based at all. More so than that, winning and then holding a gym don’t really offer that great of benefits. The Pokémon you choose to hold the gym will be controlled by AI when someone else attacks it… and well, that AI isn’t great.
It is almost a foregone conclusion that Niantic/Nintendo will add multiplayer battles. How they implement it and how robust the battle system is will change the game significantly. To be honest, the implementation will be what decides whether this game has long term staying power or not.
The rewards for winning a battle or holding a gym must be worthwhile, or no one will do it. Currently, they are not.
The system of Pokéstops is great and has a lot of potential for ad revenue and other profit. However, the Pokéstops themselves give an unfair advantage to people who are lucky enough to be near a tri/quad location where people frequently drop lures. Players in rural locations or in the middle of suburbia may find it difficult to venture into downtown to find these locations, versus a player who lives near Central Park in New York City and can enjoy 24/7 lured Pokéstops whenever they want.
This needs to be standardized somehow.
It does not make sense for 3-4 Pokéstops to be close enough to each other so that the lures overlap allowing for a player to always be capturing a Pokémon for the entire life of the lure.
I previously said that they might consider doing “ladder” or “seasons” like Diablo II and Diablo III do respectively. However, the more I think about it, the more I think Niantic won’t do it, unless they do it in a limited capacity. For example, Mew and Mewtwo don’t currently exist in the game, other than as data (that we know of). Actually, there are a lot of legendary Pokémon that have not been found yet.
If I was working for Niantic, I would create a Ladder for each of these legendary Pokémon. It should be a short Ladder, let’s say only 1 month. For example:
It would alternate like this: Ladder 1 (1 month) and then Post-Ladder(1 month) where the previous Ladder’s Pokémon is now available to the general public. So with that plan, the above is enough for a year’s worth of Pokémon GO content to make both casuals and hardcore trainers alike be happy. “Ladder” trainers and “Non-Ladder” Trainers would see completely different things in their respective worlds. For example, the same Pokéstop for a Ladder player versus Non-Ladder player would not share a Lure or the same Pokémon spawns. It is similar to what Incense does now since only the Trainer who has an active Incense can see those Pokémon that were attracted to the Incense.
This capitalizes on the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). I think players will want to try their hand at finding any new Pokémon that was not previously available to them. Additionally, this resets the economy since Ladder and Non-Ladder would be separate, allowing for Lures to once again be very valuable early on in the Ladder, with players spending $ on them. However, I would expect by the 3rd week of Ladder that most of the the players will have found/caught that Ladder’s specific Pokémon, assuming a certain level/criteria is reached.
For example, Articuno in Ladder 1 will spawn only at “McDonald’s” or [insert sponsor here] during the hours of 4pm-6pm, and only if the trainer is level 30 or higher. He can spawn anytime in that time frame, but will only be around for 5 minutes. More so than that, you have to use an Ultra Ball (or Master Ball, I guess), use a razzberry, AND curve the ball to the LEFT.
All cheaters must be banned. It needs to be done frequently otherwise GPS spoofing will kill this game.
I suspect that Niantic is on top of this since they banned players in Ingress (their prior game) before and they have issued soft bans in Pokémon Go, where all Pokémon run away from the player for a few hours. However, people are trying their best to circumvent Niantic’s efforts.
I think Niantic needs to demonstrate a show of force soon, otherwise you will lose players who become disheartened by cheaters getting all the pokémon they want.
Just more fun opinions about Pokémon Go.
Niantic, if you’re listening and like my commentary… reach out to me. I’ll give you great feedback and all I ask for is a Mewtwo…
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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