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Pokémon GO!

Opinion

by

August 10, 2016

By the time the Pokémon anime television series began airing, I was more interested in girls, art, and music than brightly colored seizure-inducing cartoons. It was never really my thing, but my younger brother was a fan, so I had an awareness of it. From an outsider’s perspective it seemed to me like a frivolous pursuit. Forgive me if it feels like I’m the cranky old man yelling, “You kids get off my damn lawn!” In reality, I thought I was just too cool for Pokémon. Smash cut to July 6, 2016. Posts about Pokémon GO began trickling into my Facebook newsfeed. I, like most people, had no idea the game was being released. But Pokémon GO rapidly topped the American iOS App Store’s “Top Grossing” and “Free” charts and became the most downloaded app in its first week in the App Store. It is still growing with no end in sight.

This has led to a huge increase in awareness of the Pokémon brand and a tremendous increase in the value of the companies responsible for the game. By July 22, Nintendo gained $17.6 billion in market capitalization since the game’s launch. Ironically, however, when Nintendo revealed they had a limited stake in Pokémon GO, its stock fell by 18% on July 25. But plenty of companies will benefit from the Pokémon GO craze including retailers like Five Below that sell a variety of Pokemon-related merchandise.

The app was developed and published by Niantic (a software development company based in San Francisco) in partnership with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company. Before the game was released, I had never heard of Niantic, but now they are arguably one of the most important companies of the year. The thing I find most amazing is the amount of free exposure they have gained through the news media and social media.

The app is free; but the real money comes from in-app purchases. There are 21 million daily active users; 700,000 downloads per day; $1.6 million a day spent on in-app purchases and $44.8 million earned as of 8/3/16. That could mean $584 million in revenue per year. Some are saying it is the next television and internet and advertisers are going to throw money at it.

And while there have been mishaps like the two guys falling off a cliff in California while playing; there are also stories of introverted kids, who rarely ventured outside, making friends while trying to fulfill the edict “Gotta Catch ‘Em All”, which was the motto for the Pokémon series.

So have I caved-in and played Pokémon GO? No, but that’s not to say that I still think I’m too cool for it. I am definitely in awe of the unprecedented phenomenon it has become; and its success is inspiring to anyone like me who enjoys developing apps.
As a graphic design intern at Tag, I get to work with the creative team. It is an honor and I truly appreciate the knowledge and experience I gain every week. I have learned the importance of teamwork and organization first-hand by experiencing the intuitive way things work here. Nerd alert, but one of my favorite aspects of Tag is the impeccably organized file system. It makes finding files and working on projects easy. I have also learned the importance of a brand and how game-changing it can be within a category. To quote the company’s philosophy “A brand is about distinction. Always was, always will be.” Seems like Pokémon GO got it right.

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