Pokémon Go’s Unmatched Success: A Stroke of Luck or a Blueprint for AR Gaming?
In 2016, Pokémon Go took the world by storm, becoming the most downloaded mobile game of all time in its first quarter. This unprecedented success propelled Niantic from a relatively unknown developer to a major player in the augmented reality (AR) gaming industry.
In an attempt to replicate the success of Pokémon Go, Niantic partnered with several other popular franchises, including Catan, Harry Potter, Pikmin, and Marvel. However, most of these games were canceled prematurely, leading some to wonder if Pokémon Go’s success was a fluke.
So, was Pokémon Go a stroke of luck or a blueprint for AR gaming? There is no one definitive answer. However, there are a few factors that contributed to the game’s success, including:
- The Pokémon brand: Pokémon is one of the most popular media franchises in the world, with a passionate fan base of all ages. This gave Pokémon Go a built-in audience from the start.
- The AR gameplay: Pokémon Go was one of the first games to successfully incorporate AR into its gameplay. This allowed players to interact with the game world in a new and exciting way.
- The social aspect: Pokémon Go encourages players to get out and explore their surroundings, and to interact with other players. This social aspect helped to create a sense of community around the game.
What is the history of Pokemon go
While Niantic has not been able to replicate the success of Pokémon Go with any of its other games, the company has learned a lot from its experiences. Niantic is now focused on developing AR games that are more accessible and engaging to a wider audience.
It remains to be seen whether Niantic will be able to create another hit AR game, but the company has the potential to revolutionize the way we play games.
The Evolution: Monster Hunter Now
Monster Hunter Now, Niantic’s latest release developed with Capcom, shows off the developer’s signature style. Players go on an augmented reality adventure to fight monsters and collect valuable items. These encounters are short, so players can play in quick bursts during their day. But critics say that Niantic has simply copied the Pokémon Go model instead of creating something new.
Retracing Steps: Revisiting Previous Titles
In early 2023, we reviewed NBA All-World and were impressed by its engaging gameplay. Marvel World of Heroes also had responsive gameplay, but we weren’t sure if it would be popular in the long term. By June 2023, both games had been shut down, and Niantic had laid off a significant portion of its workforce.
For those who have been following Niantic’s trajectory, this pattern of short-lived titles is not new. Of the eight games that Niantic has announced since Pokémon Go, only three remain active: Pikmin Bloom, Peridot, and Monster Hunter Now. From Harry Potter: Wizards Unite to Catan: World Explorers, Niantic has tried to fit different franchises into the successful Pokémon Go mold. Each game has its own unique gameplay elements, but the core essence is the same: players open the game, play for a short time, and interact with on-screen prompts.
Dissecting Success: Pokémon Go’s Unique Appeal
Why Pokémon Go Was So Successful? Pokémon Go’s success was no accident. Its format was perfectly aligned with the Pokémon universe’s core concept of collecting creatures. The appeal of capturing and collecting virtual creatures has made Pokémon the highest-grossing media franchise in the world. Niantic cleverly tapped into this essence.
However, it’s important to note that the allure of Pokémon Go was not primarily about the gameplay mechanics, which many found repetitive and monotonous. A 2019 study found that players were motivated primarily by nostalgia and the joy of collecting familiar Pokémon from previous titles, rather than any innovative gameplay elements.
The Underlying Issue: Niantic’s Post-Pokémon Go Strategy
The key to Pokémon Go’s success was its “collect-them-all” philosophy, but Niantic has failed to recapture this magic in subsequent games. For example, Monster Hunter Now is a fun game, but it lacks the intrinsic motivation to keep players engaged. Capturing a legendary Pokémon in Pokémon Go is a memorable achievement that none of its successors have yet to match.
In the competitive mobile gaming market, developers must find and use the unique features that their players love. For Niantic, understanding what makes Pokémon Go so popular is essential to recreating the success of its 2016 launch.