July 6, 2016: Pokemon Go! crashes into our popular culture with a buzz of activity. The multi-player location-based virtual reality game is an instant – global – hit. Via their cell phones and the free app, players wander around chasing, capturing and feeding game characters that are projected in front of them; buying virtual lures, coins, incubators and other tchotchkes to advance; and battling other players.
July – August 2016: Players fall into ditches, and get lured into sketchy locations and robbed and other disasters as the global craze grows.
August 2016: With 21 million active players, 700,000 new downloads A DAY, and players spending $3 million a day on in-app purchases per day, game creators Niantic announces earnings of roughly $243 million, on this one game.
September 2016: Company officials announce the game has lost 79% of its paying players.
November 2016: Pokemon Go! Pokemon Go? Hmmm …
It launched as the most popular mobile game of all time, globally, flared fast and just as quickly faded out of our pop culture consciousness. Rest assured, the game isn’t gone; in its “Gen2” update released this week, game makers added 100 new Pokemon characters into the app, with regular updates planned.
But among the thrill-seeking trend-setters in our office, the buzz has definitely cooled. Our kitchen used to have 3-4 players discussing the ins and the outs of the adventure as they shared lunch and played online. Now, none of my co-workers are spending any real money buying virtual things in the app. In fact, few are even playing.
What Does All This Mean For Digital Marketing?
Social media can ignite our popular culture, in real time, 24/7/365. Globally. Marketers need to be prepared for the always-on Digital Age. It’s truly here. Now.
As technology morphs our daily lives, there are still obvious differences between instant fame and building lasting growth. The literally millions of app users and purchasers generated some serious revenue for the game’s maker. BUT how many long-term Meaningful Connections with consumers were built? I’m guessing not many.
It was an awesome ride. But it was just that: a ride. Staying connected with all your audiences. On all their devices. With meaningful content they will return to access again and again. That’s the real goal.