Pokemon Go, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality

Pokemon Go is a certified viral phenomenon. After bursting out of beta last week, it has now surpassed Tinder and Twitter in terms of daily active users. Through a clever engaging format and tugging at young adult nostalgia, Pokemon Go has redefined the standards for mobile gaming. The lengths that players go through to find rare Pokemon and advance within the game is unprecedented and is worth a deeper look.

What is all the hype about?

The premise is simple: catch the Pokemon. Beyond that, this app has redefined the way we stare at and interact with our phones. To become a real-life Pokemon master, players must go out into the real world and explore their city with a new set of eyes. You are physically walking through your virtual neighborhood, on a GPS, geolocation based hunt to find and catch Pokemon.

Pokemon Go

Where virtual and reality collide

Pokemon Go is an Augmented Reality (AR) game and, in essence, is an introductory virtual reality experience. AR is an experience that enhances the real world, which in this case mean displaying Pokemon in your bathroom, office building or subway car. That said, users achieve a level of tunnel vision to their screen in a way that resembles the Virtual Reality (VR) experience.

Go to any park right now and you’ll see trainers on the prowl with their heads down, eyes locked, and headphones in. There are many proponents that claim VR to be the next big platform, but its many critics cite high cost and lack of content among others as being a tremendous barriers to entry. Pokemon Go shows us that users are ready for a more integrated and involved video experience. The app is bringing us one step closer to accepting a fully immersive content experience in a fundamentally new way.

The potential to advertising on Pokemon Go

At the moment, Pokemon Go is monetized through in-game purchases which is already earning Niantic $58.2 billion this year, and Nintendo’s stock has seen a $7 billion jump in its market cap. But that’s just the beginning! Advertising is well within the natural progression for the game. The fact that Pokemon Go has access to your exact location through their extensive permissions also cannot be valued enough.

Local businesses have already been selected as PokeStops and it’s not farfetched to guess that they will soon be able to buy their way further into the action. At the same time, advertisers can use the app to make finely targeted, native plays to their potential users. Users could soon see an opportunity to catch a Dragonite in their nearby Taco Bell and claim a 50% off coupon on their next Cheesy Gordita Crunch. Native advertising is key to the app’s success, however once users adapt to their avatar presence and advertisers discover best practices, these discoveries will easily translate into the VR world. Anyway you slice it, Pokemon Go is as much a harbinger of change as advertisers start to explore new ways to reach their target demographic across new platforms at a time when they are most likely to engage.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Clefairy sitting by my desk that I must attend to.