In an interview with Eurogamer, Niantic’s chief marketing officer compares Pokemon Go to World of Warcraft in terms of the projected lifespan for the game.
Developer Niantic Labs has faced a lot of ups and downs since Pokemon Go launch back in July, but its recent successes have given the company an optimistic outlook and it is confidently promising longevity for the mobile game that could match other long-running titles like World of Warcraft.
By now, Pokemon Go has reached legendary status when it comes to its place in gaming history. The game was an unprecedented success, later marred by series of arguably poor decisions that set the game’s daily users back a bit. Additionally, developer Niantic hadn’t predicted the massive popularity Pokemon Go would attain when it launched and their modest staff has been struggling to keep up ever since.
Aside from Niantic’s own, internal problems there were lawsuits, bans, and blame for user carelessness that bombarded the company as they were constantly trying to pick themselves up. Basically, it’s been rough, and Niantic’s chief marketing officer Mike Quigley said as much in a recent interview with Eurogamer.
We were overwhelmed by how [Pokémon Go] took off. The success of the product caught us out of position in a couple of areas. The summer was quite painful–no one slept much.
Some of the company’s biggest criticisms came after it blocked use of third-party apps intended to improve on Pokemon Go’s already flawed tracking mechanic used to find Pokemon. Their solution was to remove the feature entirely, leaving player in the dark and fuming at the lack of an alternative. Quigley insists the decision was forced upon them in order to keep the game going.
[The apps] were just crushing us on the server side. I won’t say it’s a no-win situation but it’s a tough balance. You’ve got to keep fans happy but you also have to keep the core product accessible.
Quigley remembers that period well saying, “Some of the server outages back in July were a punch in stomach.” He continued, discussing worries about Niantic’s rocky start affecting the company’s relationship with The Pokemon Company and Nintendo.
It’s not a good signal for their brand.
We’re very close to them and we have to do right by the brand, by our players and Niantic. That’s why we had to make some of those hard decisions like blocking third-party sites.It’s difficult but ultimately it’s the right thing to do for the life of the product.
More recently, the company has made positive strides in winning back its playerbase, even though it still continues to court a fair amount of players already, with seasonal events, daily bonuses, and regular updates. In this way, Niantic feels Pokemon Go is more akin to an MMO such as World of Warcraft than a simple free-to-play mobile game.
But we are more an MMO than anything else.
Every two weeks there’s new content or bug fixes going in the game. There’s key content releases we’re planning.
Quigley believes this may indicate a lifespan comparable with the popular MMO, which launched back in 2004 and is still going relatively strong today.
I think our lifespan and curve may be quite different from a free-to-play mobile game – it may be more in a [World of] Warcraft vein just because of the type of game we are.
It’s evident that Niantic has steadily revitalized and improved Pokemon Go since it’s post-launch issues began. It’s impossible to tell if Pokemon Go will ever reach that kind of staying power that World of Warcraft has achieved, but it’s hard not to appreciate their optimism.