Pokemon Go is now over half a year old. Niantic is now tasked with retaining fans’ attention after their initial flocking to the application. Today, Pokemon Company President and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara offered his thoughts on why he believes Pokemon Go became so successful in the first place.
Ishihara gave four main reasons to Nikkei for the reasons behind the application’s success. The first one was the nostalgic and emotional connection that has remained with Pokemon fans since the series first began. Ishihara referred to the “Pokemon Boom” of 1998-2000 as being a key time period for securing this connection, when Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue were released outside of Japan, with Pokemon Yellow following shortly after.
He also attributed the rapid growth of the game’s spread and popularity to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which helped bring in many casual gamers who may have otherwise missed out on the title. Ishihara termed this phenomenon a “Pokedemic” and stated that the first week of Pokemon Go was comparable to the “Pokemon Boom” mentioned above.
Ishihara referred to “unicorns” as his third reason. What he meant by this however was startup companies which are valued at a billion dollars or more. Niantic is one of these companies, having spun off from Google in late 2015. The small studio was overwhelmed with the application’s reception, which reportedly brought in over fifty times what engineers had initially anticipated.
The final reason is advances is information technology, such as location-based services gave Niantic an easy platform to expand upon. Ishihara directly referred to Uber as another application that gave Pokemon Go a popularity boost.
Even though Tsunekazu Ishihara gave pretty thorough answers, the CEO still admitted that he thinks the game’s success was still a product of chance. This proves that even successful intellectual properties still face a large challenge in the development cycle.