“With the success of ‘Pokémon Go’, I expect to see a slurry of mobile augmented reality (AR) apps from brands”. Has Pokémon, therefore, given a new life to AR on phones, asks Mark Brill, Senior Lecturer in Digital Communication and Future Media at Birmingham City University.
“Mobile AR has been kicking around in a few different forms since the late noughties and many brands have given it a go. When image recognition-based AR first appeared, the likes of Heinz and Cadbury trotted out pack-scanning campaigns. There were few reported results and consumers were not that interested. The problem? A poor user experience – the effort of scanning versus the potential reward just wasn’t worth it.
“So why has Pokémon been such a success? Apparently more people are using it than Tinder, yet the developers haven’t even finished their global roll out. A number of commentators have been trying to figure out the success and there seems to be two main reasons; nostalgia combined with great game play. The app is seeing the widest adoption in 20 to 30-somethings. Pokémon has a 90s nostalgia that takes users back to the excitement of their childhood. It’s also engaging because the game has a strong collecting element (a behaviour that humans have had for generations) combined with the right flow behaviour that progresses the level of difficulty.
“So has ‘Pokémon Go’ changed the game for mobile AR? I’m sure some will claim that it has introduced a whole generation to the joys of augmented reality, but I’m not convinced. The success of Pokémon is not the use of AR, but rather, the appeal of the game. It’s not down to the technology.
“What’s more, I think the current success will be short lived. We’re downloading apps faster (almost at an exponential rate), but the flip side is that apps are reaching maturity and abandonment sooner. Is anyone still playing ‘Angry Birds?’ By this time next year I doubt that we’ll be discussing ‘Pokémon Go’. That said, I’m sure Niantic are already planning new iterations and Nintendo are hurriedly trying to work out how they can make money from Pokémon’s success.
“My guess is that we will see a whole raft of mobile nostalgia apps based on old gaming characters, but their future success won’t be because they used AR, it will come down to the quality of the game. And when it comes to brands, I’m certain that consumers won’t be running around parks collecting virtual wrappers for a chocolate bar. Although I’m sure someone will make that app.”