A change is initiated by an instance or event which grows in magnitude over the time and transforms either into a trend or a fad depending upon the drivers driving the change. Even after seeing the world going crazy over Pokemon Go game, I don't get very excited to try the game, maybe because I'm not an avid gamer. However, I fell to the peer pressure and decided to try the game. After catching few Pokemons on my way to work, I have now almost stopped playing the game since it drains your phone battery and consumes lots of data. These reasons may not hold for Pokemon Go to eventually die as a short-term fad but the drivers currently driving this change will :
1. AR feature : One of the features of the game that generated excitement was the AR feature to catch the pokemon. AR and VR have been there around for a long time but have failed to get into the mainstream. Also, Pokemon Go is not the first app to use AR but what made it different was the fun and easy way to experience augmented reality. To a great extent, the AR feature of the game could be credited for driving the popularity of the AR pocket monster catching game. Will this change driver continue to engage the user with the game? Many like me gradually started turning off the AR mode to save battery but even then playing the game without the AR feature was no less of a great experience. Pokemon Go certainly gave the first taste of AR to many but it doesn't play a significant role in retaining the users.
2. Nostalgia: Pikachu! I still remember playing with Pokemon cards and watching the cartoon on TV with my friends. This twenty-year-old brand gave a chance to all of us to live our childhood once again. I am sure no one among us is trading the pokemon cards anymore but the nostalgia around this brand and its 150 creatures have driven us crazy to go after catching them like a child. So how long is this sense of nostalgia going to engage us with the game? Maybe not for a very long time but at least for some time. Though the game and the characters are primarily targeted at the kids, it is played more by adults out of nostalgia. Once we are out of our nostalgia mode, we may not be playing this for long.
3. Timing: It's summer and everyone is already out there to enjoy the sunshine. The timing for the release of the game has been so perfect. No one would mind traveling to parks or visiting neighborhoods that they have never visited to catch an AR creature. But is it something people would continue doing once the summer ends? We all are busy in our lives with work and family and this game requires one to invest time and make a physical effort to go out to places to catch Pokemons and move high up in the game. When these nostalgic adults who otherwise don't find time to hit gym get tired, they will move on and the popularity and the engagement of the game will suffer significantly.
4. Peer Effect: We are living in an experience economy where the number of likes and retweets are global metrics for success and achievement and 'FOMO', fear of missing out is a spreading disease. If all our friends are experiencing a global phenomenon, we also want to be a part it whether it is good or bad. We just don't want to be left out, we want to be in the club. And once we have avoided the fear of missing out, we want to share our happiness with the world. And each like or retweet on the screenshot of the game is like an applaud by the global community for keeping up with the trend. I too succumbed to that peer effect and did what almost every millennial does these days. So, what next? Will we continue playing the game? May be or may be not . Or may be till people continue to share their Pokemon catching experiences over lunch or coffee.
Pokemon Go is currently in a honeymoon period and once this period starts fading the popularity will also start losing its shine unless the developers of the game come up with new levels or challenges for the users to continue engaging with the game. Anything that goes viral is mostly driven by short living drivers and as soon as these drivers die, the viral thing too dies. Having said that, Pokemon Go is a game with big implications. Whether it continues to maintain its buzz or not, it has successfully tested the waters for a new category of mobile games to emerge. Those who have not played the game yet, stay strong you have survived candy crush you will survive this as well.
Stories by Sajan Mathew