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Quick Take: Why Pokemon Go Will Bring AR To The Mainstream

Photo of Karol Severin
by Karol Severin

AR has so far struggled to produce a compelling proposition for the mainstream to engage with (except possibly Snapchat). Pokemon Go has executed this masterfully because it:

Is free and does not require buying additional hardware (subject to smartphone ownership)Leverages a popular franchise and a sense of nostalgia driving adoption across age segmentsUses the World as a free roaming map providing endless encouragement to stick around and explore further

Global Content In A Local Context

Though the Pokemon Go uses globally standardized characters, users explore them within their physical geographies. This adds a sense of localization without the need to manually localize the content itself. The local differentiation is naturally embedded in the geo-location.. Localization has proved an important concept for mobile strategies. GPS-based AR is the next shift, from localization to individualization at scale, and is becoming a reality.

Breaking Away From Traditional App Revenue

GPS – based AR adds viability to revenue streams in addition to standard App models such as in-app purchases or paid downloads. One example is interconnecting mobile with offline purchasing experiences effectively to leverage affiliate partnerships. Imagine browsing supermarket shelves to pick a chocolate, with brands offering free Pokemons upon making a purchase. Similarly, certain Pokemons could be discoverable on flights of specific airlines.

The success of Pokemon Go is hugely important for AR’s future:

The sheer uptake will provide producers with feedback from a more mainstream data sample than previous AR offerings allowing the industry to learn producing offerings which cater to critical masses rather than to a handful of early adopters.Mainstream consumers now have a benchmark for AR’s abilities. Making consumers more familiar with it will help them carve out more realistic expectations. Furthermore a positive experience with the first mainstream AR proposition will drive adoption of the next one.

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Karol Severin
Hi Chad, Thank you for your comment. This article was not to imply that Pokemon Go is the only successful AR experience. Just, that it is what will significantly help usher these experiences to the mainstream. Think about it as the iPhone moment. The iPhone wasn't the first successful smartphone either, but it was the first one ready for prime time. Just to illustrate this further, Ingress had approximately 7 million downloads after a year of existence. Pokemon Go is estimated to have achieved 7.5 million in the first two weeks in the US alone.
Chad Bryant
I would have to disagree with your article. Ingress is the first mainstream AR game that has evolved in a global sense. Both Android and then later iOS players have driven the development of AR games, particularly Pokemon Go. It is the Ingress players who "discovered" portals for use in the game that Niantic has now co-opted into Pokestops and Gyms. Ingress events have attracted hundreds of thousands of players to locations all around the global. Recently during one of their events called Anomalies I met people from across Canada, the US, and two others one from Pakistan and one from Israel. And that was just in Calgary, a secondary site on only 1 side of the event. Pokemon Go just leverages a well known brand (i.e. Pokemon) to created a wider audience though a simpler game based on the same ideas they had already developed for what was their flagship.