Imitating Pokemon Go Likely Won't Work For You

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Imitating Pokemon Go Likely Won't Work For You

Right now, Pokemon Go is changing the landscape. A major new gaming presence, one of the first big attempts at augmented reality gaming, a major marketing tool, and a host of other points are driving use of and interest in this product. It's probably got some thinking about how they can "me too!" their way to success. A recent report from Venture Beat suggests that that may not be the battle plan of choice going forward.

Given that Pokemon Go currently has more active daily users than Twitter, it's easy to see why some would look for lightning to strike twice. After all, even if only a tenth of that success finds its way to the derivative products, it's still a hit by any conventional standard. Pokemon Go, however, had a major brand working in its favor; people who were already Pokemon fans gravitated in big numbers to Pokemon Go, and let's face it, there's almost 20 years' worth of Pokemon fans to draw from. From newcomers to recent fans, to oldsters like myself--though I was never that big on Pokemon--swinging in for nostalgia value and remembering Pokemon from the Game Boy days when LFO could still be fairly regularly heard on the radio. Pokemon Go's success isn't the game itself, so much as it is that big old highly recognizable brand that everyone knows and loves backing it up.

Pokemon Go also understands reward. Known as a "core loop", it's a process of behaviors that starts with a player doing something, then getting rewarded, then the rewards adding a reason to go back into the game and carry the process forward, setting up a loop. Some loops are stronger than others, of course, but Pokemon Go's combination leveling of both player and Pokemon is highly valuable.

We noted this previously, but Pokemon Go's history helps it in another way: its rewards aren't just nostalgia-based, but they're also social-based, drawing on years of previous Pokemon material to give players a reason to stick around and discover all the things they didn't know about the game, or had known at one point but forgot under an avalanche of bills and other obligations. The discovery process improves the chance of sticking around, as learning more about the game and its massive lore adds yet another layer of reward and accomplishment to the whole affair.

So while there is the possibility that a Pokemon Go imitator could pull in some of this success--I've often wondered about a horror-themed version that works similarly to Fatal Frame, but instead of depending solely on a GPS turns to a clock instead so that users don't necessarily have to go out and hunt--it's going to take a lot of doing to make an imitator even somewhat successful. It's not the game itself that's so successful, so much as it is the latest entry of a long-standing franchise that's already well-loved.

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