4 Reasons Behind Pokémon Go's Wild Success

I can’t seem to get away from it. Gaggles of millennials roam through malls with their smartphones out, trying to catch Pokémon characters. The media is buzzing with Pokémon Go’s developments. In its debut week, Pokémon Go broke the Apple App Store’s download record and currently holds the position of “Top Grossing iPhone” app. Not bad for a free app, is it?

But what made Pokémon Go so successful? Here are four possible reasons:

1. Nostalgia

In my conversations with millennials (in their twenties) playing Pokémon Go, I discovered that as children, they avidly played Pokémon on Nintendo DS. Ten years later, they admitted that part of the allure was the nostalgia and reminder of happy memories.

2. Innovative Game Play

The one unique thing about this game is that it requires players to go outside and search for the Pokémon characters. Essentially, it’s a virtual scavenger hunt. The game’s augmented reality is an interesting aspect. However, some players find it annoying, which makes me think augmented reality is not the primary driving feature of the game.

3. Social Interaction

Once a player gets to Level 5 in the game, they can join teams. Many games have a social aspect but Pokémon Go is unique because it forces players to walk in the real world to find the characters. Social interaction is real, not just virtual. A millennial I spoke to, for instance, says that all her friends at Taco Bell are on the same team and often go on a scavenger hunt after work.

4. A Brilliant Monetization Strategy

As I mentioned earlier, Pokémon Go is currently the Top Grossing App on the Apple Store. As with most free games, in-app purchases enable players to buy virtual goods. The two millennials had already spent $25.

One of the most brilliant virtual goods offered on Pokémon Go is called a “Lure” Module, which attracts a Pokémon to a PokéStop for 30 minutes.

A New York pizzeria claims that their revenue jumped 75% over the weekend by purchasing $10 in Lure Modules. So if you buy Lure Modules in bulk, it comes out to $1.70 per Lure Module, which is a pretty good ROI. Even more interesting is that there will be a national sponsorship system where retailers like Jamba Juice and McDonalds can set up their own Poke Stops.

The Future

Time will tell if Pokémon Go has staying power or if it’s just a fad. Right now, it’s going very strong. Success spawns imitators and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a Disney or Looney Tunes version next year. Maybe Pokémon Go’s model will inspire your own startup.