Boom! The pivotal moment that the AR & VR industry has been anticipating for years has finally happened. Pokemon Go has been unleashed on the masses and gamified, location based augmented reality (AR) is now in the spotlight.
Within days of the game’s realease, we witnessed packs of crazed kids, teenagers and people of all ages, fill the streets and parks to catch invisible monsters. All with smiles on their faces. The people who weren’t playing would stop, stare in amazement and ask questions.
The general comment being, “This is a total phenomenon!”
About The Game
Pokémon GO is the first major release to combine augmented reality with location based social game mechanics. The game play uses the camera, GPS and clock on a smartphone to reward players as they navigate to different locations in the physical world to uncover and collect hidden monsters which appear overlaid on top of the real world.
The game features a timeless game mechanic, the reward system, which encourages people to get out and explore their surroundings to collect hidden treasures around every corner. The social aspect of the game causes players to meet at key locations (often parks and public landmarks) to connect, to play together, to compete and to share interesting screenshots of the game play on social media.
Below is a photo of a popular Pokestop location on the river in Mainz, Germany near our INSCALE office. The location is normally empty at lunch time, but now has an all day, steady stream of kids coming and going, looking to level up, hang out and share the experience.
AR, Memories & Monetization
One exciting aspect of the game is it’s ability to create lasting memories about even the most mundane locations. When I first started playing, I walked to the park across from our office and captured a Magikarp in the fountain. Normally I would just walk by without a second thought, but now I have a strong, happy, lasting memory of the location because that is where I caught a fish.
The success of the game gives leverage to the big question of how investors were looking to monetize augmented reality. In addition to the existing monetization features already built into the game, the “Fish Scenario” mentioned above brings to mind another huge opportunity for brands to build strong memorable brand experiences. This is the “holy grail” of awareness marketing.
The game’s creator, Niantic, has stated that they will soon be enabling sponsored locations, with brands like McDonalds rumored to be on the list. With this update, people will be flocking to local businesses with the intent of capturing rare creatures, but the result will be massive residual spending in the stores & restaurants who cater to the madness.
Additionally, they will be developing much deeper & lasting memories of the location as being great places to discover hidden digital value and entertainment.
The Impacts for the AR / VR Industry
Augmented reality device developers such as Google, Meta, Magic Leap & Microsoft have all been building AR hardware and gaining traction for positioning for the future, but many still question just how many people will want to use these kinds of devices on a daily basis.
One obvious benefit that could lead to the large scale rapid adoption to optical, wearable AR devices, beyond the obvious popularity of the game, is the increased usability factor.
The basic premise of Pokemon Go is to walk while staring at your phone, Doing so for extended periods of time, however, is not the most comfortable of user experiences. When the average user suddenly has the ability to easily play these games by just looking through an optical wearble AR device, such as a pair of glasses, suddenly the ease of use increases tenfold and could easilly become a standard daily mobile accessory.
AR Content is King
Still, the biggest monetization opportunity with AR is content. A whole new layer of augmented, location based entertainment and advertising will be hitting the mainstream and brands are racing to be there.
As you read this, developers are scrambling to jump on the AR bandwagon and soon our world will be filled with any number of hidden virtual zombies, plants, pets, aliens, sports, special offers, junk food coupons, dating apps and incentive based gamification will be EVERYWHERE!
If you are not yet convinced of augmented reality’s potential, here are a few statistics and thoughts about the large scale impacts from the game:
- The game is currently earning $1.6 Million per day
- It has surpassed twitter for number of daily users with more engagement time on average being spent playing game (43 min per day) than WhatsApp or Instagram.
- Local businesses and key tourist attractions located near Pokestops are already starting to see huge sales boosts in very short amounts of time. If you run ice cream trucks or food carts, you might want to reconsider your strategic parking locations!
- Businesses may start to appear with the sole purpose of catering to and hosting location based AR activity. Event based businesses, non profits and organizations could easily gain attention by offering sponsored, location based AR content.
- More people will be motivated to get out, explore new places and spend more money there as a result. Location based games, like these, could potentially even make a sizeable dent in the global obesity problem.
Businesses Will Need an Augmented Reality Strategy
The key takeaway here is that businesses will need an augmented reality strategy. The need for teams of specialized AR developers, 3D designers and AR based marketing know-how will be critical for your success in the very near future.
If you have a brick and mortar business, AR offers tremendous opportunity for new customers and sales. If your business relies on mobile platform integration, AR will need to be baked in. If you are in marketing, sales or PR, knowing how to leverage existing AR platforms will open some incredible new opportunities.
Remember, AR is still in it’s early phase. It is only going to get bigger and the time to start planning and developing is immediately.
Now if you’ll excuse me… there is a purple Venonat standing next to the Gear VR on my desk. I gotta GO!
Sean Earley is the podcast host and Executive Editor of AR/VR Magazine, Modern Musician Magazine & co-founder of RobotSpaceship Podcast Network. He is the Director of New Biz Development, PR and Publishing at KEMWEB, a musician, producer & consultant. He loves guitars, VR and coffee.