Pokemon Company President and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara explains in detail why he believes the Pokemon GO application has been such a substantial success.
Now over half a year old, Pokemon GO has spent the last 6 months both breaking records and changing how players interact with mobile games as a whole. Developer Niantic is now tasked with retaining the attention of fans who initially swarmed to the application, though today Pokemon Company President and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara looked to the past to offer his thoughts about why he believes Pokemon GO became such a successful game in the first place.
Ishihara gave four main reasons to Nikkei for the application’s success, and the first one he put forth was the obvious nostalgic and emotional connection that has remained with Pokemon fans since the series exploded onto the scene. Specifically, the Poke-President 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 thereafter. Ishihara insists this boom paved the way for the positive response that the game received from multiple demographics, with both children, young adults, and nostalgic parents trying out the application en masse.
He also attributed the quick growth of the game’s spread and popularity to websites like Facebook and Twitter, something which helped bring in plenty of casual gamers who may have otherwise missed out on the title. Ishihara called this phenomenon a ‘Pokedemic’, stating that the first week of Pokemon GO was comparable to the aforementioned Pokemon Boom in terms of its significance.
Giving credit where due, he stated that unicorns were his third reason. Ishihara isn’t referring to majestic horse-like creatures in this case (or even a Keldeo), but rather startup companies which are valued at a billion dollars or more. Niantic is one such company, having spun off from google in late 2015. The small studio was overwhelmed with the reception of the application, which reportedly brought in over 50 times what the engineers had expected. The massive reception caused massive server problems during the game’s launch, though it evidently didn’t stop Niantic from raking in some serious profit.
As his last reason, the Pokemon Company President praised advances in information technology, such as the rise of location-based services which presented Niantic a platform to expand upon. Ishihara directly referred to Uber as one such application, though the Pokemon GO application itself also spawned a service of drivers dedicated to Pokemon GO players.
Though Tsunekazu Ishihara gave pretty thorough answers on the reasons behind the success of Pokemon GO, the CEO then admitted that he thinks the game’s success was still a product of chance – proving that even successful intellectual properties still face a large challenge in the development cycle. In the end, Pokemon GO will be regarded as a massive success, though only time will tell if the new Pokemon and long-promised features like trading will help it survive in the long-term.
Pokemon GO is available now for both iOS and Android devices.