Four Reasons Behind Pokémon Go’s Success

Pokemon Go

Four Reasons Behind Pokémon Go’s Success

I can’t seem to get away from it.  I’m watching a gaggle of millennials roam the mall with their smartphones out trying to catch the Pokémon virtual characters.  Pokémon Go has generated a lot of media buzz.  In its debut week, Pokémon Go broke the Apple App Store’s download record and it currently, holds the position of “Top Grossing iPhone” app (not bad for a free app).   So what’s made Pokémon Go so successful?  Here are my observations.

Pokemon Go Top of charts


In my conversations with the millennials (both in their twenties) playing the Pokémon Go, as children they were avid players of Pokémon on the Nintendo DS.  10 years later, they admitted that part of the allure was that it was nostalgic and brought back happy memories.

Innovative Game Play

The one unique thing about this game is that it requires the players to go outside and search for the Pokémon characters.    Essentially, it’s a virtual scavenger hunt.  The game’s augment reality is an interesting aspect.  However, I talked to one player who found it annoying and actually turns it off which makes me think it’s not a driving feature of the game.


Once a player gets to level 5 in the game, they can join teams.  Many games have a social aspect to it.  However, what’s different about Pokémon Go is that because it forces players to walk out in the real word to find the characters, the social aspect can be real (not virtual).  The millennial that I spoke to, said that all her friends at Taco Bell are on the same team and they would often go on their scavenger hunt after work.

A Brilliant Monetization Strategy

As I mentioned earlier, Pokémon Go is currently the Top Grossing App on the Apple Store.  As in most free games, there’s an in-app purchase where players can buy virtual goods which is typical (from my conversation my Pokémon Go playing millennials between the two of them had already spent $25).  What’s brilliant is virtual good called “Lure” Module which attracts a Pokémon to a PokeStop for 30 minutes.

A New York pizzeria claims that their revenue jumped 75% over the weekend by purchasing $10 in Lure Modules.   So if you buy in bulk it comes out to $1.70 per Lure Module which is a pretty good ROI.  Even more interesting is that there will be a national sponsorship system where retailers like Jamba Juice  and McDonalds can set up their own  Poke Stops.

Pokemon Go Lure

The  Future

Time will tell if Pokémon Go has staying power or if it’s just a fad. Right now, it’s going very strong.  Success spawns imitators and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a Disney or Looney Tunes version next year.    Maybe Pokémon Go’s model will inspire your own startup.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.


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About Rich Foreman

Rich Foreman is the CEO of Apptology. He leads Apptology with 20 years of experience in leadership, engineering, mobile application development and sales. Rich has a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington, an MPA from Troy State University and was an officer in the US Navy. Rich recently co-authored his first book, “Tap into the Mobile Economy." He has been featured on KCRA3, NEWS10, SiliconIndia, the Sacramento Business Journal, and the Sacramento Bee.

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