Entertainment

Pokemon 'Gone': Three lessons to learn from 'fad'

Pokemon Go fans in Hervey Bay.
Pokemon Go fans in Hervey Bay. Lauren Smit

Pokémon Go is in rapid decline. Since launching in July and soaring in popularity, it had lost at least a third of its daily users by the middle of August.

By mid-September, daily revenues had fallen from US$16m per day to US$2m (excluding the 30% app store fee) and daily downloads had declined from a peak of 27 million to 700,000.

Of course, many mobile games - especially ones that trigger a worldwide craze - suffer declines in usage over time.

Pokémon Go still generates significant revenues. But its precipitous decline has seen it labelled a fad and nicknamed "Pokémon Gone".

This raises the question of why usage has dropped so steeply, and what other game companies might do differently to retain users.

In my opinion, Pokémon Go's creators Niantic have made several significant missteps. Here are the lessons that other companies can learn.

Have a clear avenue to capitalise quickly

Pokémon Go launched with relatively little actual "game", and by the end of July was still arguably missing a lot of features.

The launch version enabled players to collect Pokémon characters while out roaming in the real world. But it featured shallower gameplay than its siblings on Nintendo's gaming platforms.

For example, the mechanisms for battling Pokémon were relatively simplistic, with arbitrary-seeming controls. Furthermore, there was no way for people to interact in real time in the game.

This is not a problem if the aim is to get as many players to sign up as possible, but it is an issue when trying to keep them interested.

The developers did not introduce new elements quickly enough to stop players getting bored.

So far there has been little in the way of new gameplay aspects, with the most significant addition being in the form of hardware: a Pokémon Go wearable device released last month.

The developers have pledged to allow players to choose a "buddy Pokémon" to accompany them in-game, although it is not clear how this will change the game's mechanics.

Nevertheless, by waiting so long after the game's launch, the developers have missed an opportunity to capitalise on their existing player base.

The obvious lesson for developers is to have a roadmap to enhance the game and keep players interested, especially when the core game itself is not very deep.

Pokemon Go master Nick Johnson visiting the Opera House
Pokemon Go master Nick Johnson visiting the Opera House

Do not remove popular features

Besides failing to introduce new features, Pokémon Go also removed popular ones. This is likely to alienate players, especially if done with little explanation - some commentators have branded the game "broken".

In Pokémon Go's case, the feature in question was "Pokémon tracking". A core aspect of the game is that it creates a virtual representation of the player's real-world location, which is then populated with Pokémon characters for players to collect by walking around.

But to catch Pokémon, players need to know where they are - and without Pokémon tracking, players are left wandering aimlessly and relying on luck to find them.

Pokémon tracking was relatively rudimentary in the game itself, and arguably did not work at all. This led several third parties to create their own Pokémon tracking apps that became crucial to dedicated players.

In other words, players accepted the original broken feature because third-party apps let them circumvent it.

A close-up view of the Pokemon Go game.
A close-up view of the Pokemon Go game. REMKO DE WAAL

However, the developer, Niantic, subsequently disabled these apps by cutting off their data access and sending them "cease and desist" orders. This effectively removed a feature that many players regarded as essential.

The developers have arguably repeated this gaffe by disabling the game for players with "rooted" android devices - a relatively common hack that lets phone users change their administrative settings or bypass restrictions imposed by telecommunications providers.

Pokémon Go has banned rooted devices so as to prevent "geo-spoofing", whereby players cheat the game by using software to fake their location.

But while the goal is valid, the implementation clearly has ramifications for many legitimate users.

The clear lesson is that a company should not remove features without first considering how essential they are to the user experience, and without offering an adequate replacement.

This lesson applies not just to gaming but to the wider consumer industry; companies should always know what their customers regard as essential, and should never undermine it without putting in place a clear workaround (or ideally, improvement).

Police are warning Pokemon Go players to do the right thing.
Police are warning Pokemon Go players to do the right thing.

Talk to your customers

Pokémon Go's decline has been characterised by a consistent lack of communication. The catalyst was arguably the removal of Pokémon tracking.

While far from ideal, this could have been managed with better communication, but instead some players were left so disillusioned that they requested refunds.

The developers did not forewarn of major (potentially negative) changes, and did not communicate afterwards, leading to the claim that "silence is killing Pokemon Go".

This has not been an isolated incident; the developers communicated only intermittently about server outages, offering very little information about why they had happened, how long the disruption was expected to last, or whether it was the work of hackers.

The final lesson is here is that communicating with your customers is paramount, particularly when things go wrong.

Otherwise, you risk losing their confidence that you care about them and know how to fix the problem.

If you have to make unpopular decisions, at least communicate the reason for those decisions and present a plan to assuage consumers' concerns.

Pokemon Go players at the Botanical Gardens, Coffs Harbour.Ian Corbett [Gardens Curator} with Aaron Patterson, Michael Drews and Jonothon Mackay playing the game.25  july  2016.
Pokemon Go players at the Botanical Gardens, Coffs Harbour.Ian Corbett [Gardens Curator} with Aaron Patterson, Michael Drews and Jonothon Mackay playing the game.25 july 2016. Leigh Jensen

Where to from here for Pokémon Go?

This all begs the question: how might Pokémon Go attempt to bounce back? This might be challenging, as Pokémon Go would both need to implement new features and make lapsed (and new) users aware of them.

One potential option is to increase social events, perhaps involving rare Pokémon placed in a given area. This might also generate more positive word of mouth, increase user engagement, and drive interest.

Pokémon Go could also expand into other markets, potentially rectifying the aforementioned issues when doing so. This includes a possible expansion into China and India.

This would be most effective if additional in-game features, such as in game battling, were implemented.

In this case, the game could start from a fresh base in new markets, while improving the game in existing markets.

Mark Humphery-Jenner is Associate Professor of Finance, UNSW Australia

This article first appeared here at The Conversation

Topics:  gaming pokemon go



Serious planning need for Queensland to meet its economic and environmental future: LNP

BIG PLANS: Queensland Shadow Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply, Michael Hart (right) with Gympie MP Tony Perrett at Borumba Dam yesterday, one of the water and energy assets he want to see made part of an integrated plan as the Gympie region looks to tomorrow.

LNP says Queensland needs to think big and plan big to face future

What's with the centre pivot irrigation at Calico Ck?

RIGHT: Brahman breeders are run on the proposed crop area at Calico Creek. Earthworks in the background are to allow maximum irrigation line coverage.

Motorists on the Mary Valley Hwy have been left wondering

Man left with chest injuries in Theebine animal attack

ATTACK: A man has been attacked and injured by a bull or cow at Theebine.

A Theebine man, in his 70s, has been attacked by a cow or bull.

Local Partners

What's with the centre pivot irrigation at Calico Ck?

Motorists on the Mary Valley Hwy have been left wondering about the story the behind the 300m centre pivot irrigator at Calico Creek


Australia Day set to sizzle at Gympie Bunnings

Grab a snag at Gympie Bunnings on the weekend after Australia Day and support the Kandanga Rural Fire Service.

Head to Bunnings and grab a snag sanger for Aussie Day

Noll meltdown won't affect Gympie Oz Day concert

Shannon Noll

Photo Contributed

Shannon Noll is still expected to perform in Gympie next Thursday

Bargains galore: This weekend's garage sales across region

Got some spare time this weekend? Check out these garage sales across the region.

Road bike, rocking chair, skateboard, dining suite up for grabs

50 Shades actress on why she hates the film

Dornan and Johnson’s frequent sex scenes were ‘awkward’ to film. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Jamie Dornan doesn’t blame you for hating 50 Shades

Chris Hemsworth’s X-rated compliment to former co-star

Australian actor Chris Hemsworth poses on the red carpet for the European premiere of the film 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' in London on April 21, 2015.

THOR star once paid former Home and Away actress a lewd compliment.

'I can't keep my mouth shut any longer'

Singer George Michael.

George Michael’s cousin blasts singer’s boyfriend Fadi Fawaz.

Fresh faces: NCIS gets a shake up with new cast members

The new cast of NCIS, from left, Rocky Carroll, Pauley Perrette, Sean Murray, David McCallum, Brian Dietzen, Wilmer Valderrama, Emily Wickersham, Mark Harmon, Duane Henry and Jennifer Esposito.

THREE new characters join naval drama for season 14.

First the Onesie, now an Xbox One S inflatable controller

Fancy an inflatable Xbox One S controller?

Inflatable controller 'perfect sidekick' for Australia Day party

Sarah Harris: Here’s what Amber Sherlock should’ve done

Studio 10 and Shark Tank presenter Sarah Harris.

STUDIO 10 host says Sherlock could’ve avoided the subsequent uproar.

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

What a year 2016 proved to be

Entrance Island, Birtinya

Get the inside info from the agents themselves

REVEALED: What Coast wants in an international airport

Sunshine Coast business people share their views on what's needed

Time for a cool change

43 Eckersley Ave, Buderim.

Family home goes to the auction floor

Designer home set in lush tropical gardens

This home has it all and more

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!