A New York pizzeria saw sales rocket up 75 percent over a single weekend because of it. A television station in Florida had their weather broadcast interrupted by a reporter interacting with it. Arlington National Cemetery wants to have no part in it. And police departments have warned those enjoying it to be careful: one robbery victim has already been lured in by it.
Pokémon GO – an interactive game played on smartphones and mobile devices – was launched by Nintendo (NTDOY) on Thursday, July 7th; leading to an astounding boost in Nintendo stock, with shares soaring 25% and adding $7.5 billion in value to the company.
Market intelligence firm Sensor Tower estimates at least 15 million U.S. downloads of the game on iOS and Android had taken place in the first 3 days since the launch. Those figures are predicted to continue to rise as time passes and new data rolls in.
Here’s how it works:
The game is basically a virtual treasure hunt that moves the action out of your living room and into the fresh air. Just download the app, and your mobile device’s GPS system plots your current location in relation to virtual monsters that can only be seen through the “eye” of your smartphone or tablet. Find a Pokémon on your screen and swipe up – the captured monster can now be trained in your virtual gym to get ready to battle other players’ Pokémon for points and accolades.
The term for the technology is ‘augmented reality’ – using your device to interact with virtual reality superimposed on the real world.
Pokémon GO is free to play. However, if you want an advantage in hatching virtual Pokémon eggs, luring the collectible monsters to you, doubling your “XP points”, or evolving your digital pets into more powerful monsters more quickly you’ll need virtual “boosts”. Some players are willing to pay actual cash for the virtual GO Coins to achieve these boosts if they’re not accumulating the free Coins, “Candy”, or “Stardust” fast enough to suit their tastes – just what the game’s creators are counting on.
The game has been in the news not only because of the remarkable improvement in Nintendo stock, but also because of all the players out and about searching for the creatures. And once they’re outside, businesses are ready to pounce.
On top of selling GO Coins, Nintendo is collecting profits in another way: by selling lures to businesses. Sean Benedetti, manager of L’inizio Pizza Bar in New York, spent $10.00 to have a dozen Pokémon monsters lured to his restaurant, which in turn lured in the Pokémon hunters.
Clearly, the game is afoot.
“We had people come down, sit down and get a couple beers and play the Pokémon game,” Benedetti told the New York Post.
And L’inizo isn’t alone – Twitter users report other businesses using lures to bring in virtual creatures and real live customers – and players don’t seem to mind a bit.
Now before ascribing this craze to being just the latest trendy tech pets out of Japan, there are a couple of things you should know. Yes, Japan was the original birthplace of the Pokémon game back in 1996 for the Nintendo Gameboy. But while its latest incarnation has scored big in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and Germany—Pokémon GO still hasn’t been released in Japan as of July 14th, 2016.
“The release date is still uncertain,” a Pokémon Company spokeswoman told the Japan Times on Wednesday, July 13th.
If that seems strange, it may make more sense when you learn that the actual developer and distributor of the game is not, in fact, Japan’s Nintendo.
Niantic Inc. is a closely held California company that was spun out last year by a rather well-known technology giant—Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Niantic has been developing and getting the game funded for quite a while, saying in October of 2015 that it had raised $20 million from Tokyo-based Pokémon Co., Google, and Nintendo.
Why would a company like Google and its offspring be interested in collecting Pokémon? Google makes billions of dollars selling targeted advertising, which may be part of the allure. This concept becomes more interesting when you know that the millions of players who were among the first to download the game to their iPhones granted “massive” amounts of user data to Niantic.
The iOS app originally demanded full access to all Google account information.
There is an update currently available in the App Store that closes that wide-open door to users’ information, allowing access only to Google User ID’s and email addresses. However, in order to do this, users have to log out and then download the update. Niantic characterized the overreach as “erroneous” and assured people that it had only ever accessed User ID’s and email.
While analyzing the ins and outs of the Pokémon GO craze; perhaps the single most interesting fact is that, at its core, this game is really just a scavenger hunt or a variation of hide and seek with bells and whistles. But oh —what bells and whistles.
Real-time GPS player location data from across the entire country (and soon the world, if all goes according to plan). Data about where and why lures are placed by players and businesses alike. Massive numbers of players out and about, interacting with computer-generated virtual characters, using their time, and sometimes their money to collect Points and other boosts. And a big data company backing the entire enterprise—a big data company that just happens to be related to the largest technology powerhouse on the planet.
Technology can take something old and make it feel new again. It can direct behavior, create interactions (and transactions) that may not otherwise have happened. It can connect people, locations, and things, both virtual and physical. And this can in turn create millions—indeed billions—of dollars in profit. Information is out there: a treasure trove just waiting to be used by companies with a plan and the technological means to do it.
And technology can create connections between you and your customers, constituents, and employees too. Real time data and analytics can be collected from remote locations and delivered to your database – virtual “rain” from a virtual Cloud. Portals in websites allow those outside to look in, finding the information they need and communicating digitally with your business. Webinars and streaming video can broadcast your message to people next door or half a world away. Your customers get more technologically savvy every day, and they want companies that not only give them the information they need, when they need it—fast—but also make it fun, if possible.
And 5i can give your business the strategy and tools to collect, grow and evolve your data; helping you become more competitive in today’s market.
We have the technology to collect virtual signatures from your customers with a digital Pen, use your tablet to display real time data while you’re on the go, and even provide apps to “capture” your receipts, add them to your expense reports, and get them approved from your smartphone. Technology is only getting more innovative and interactive, and 5i has a toolbox of digital solutions that evolves with the times (with or without Stardust).
Pokémon and opportunities are out there. Catch ‘em all.
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