Pokemon GO app inadvertently encourages users to exercise, breathes new life into the brand
It’s a 90s kid’s dream come true… gamers now actually CAN catch ‘em all – Pokemon, that is. Two weeks ago today, the free app “Pokemon GO” was unleashed in the US. And for the past 14 days we’ve seen users venturing outside, using GPS tracking to capture Pokemon characters in real time.
The gaming world is abuzz, and for good reason. The idea of being able to take a stroll down to your local coffee shop to grab a cold brew with a side of Jigglypuff is enough to get any Millennial off their couch. I’ve had the app for all of an hour and I’m already itching to take my dog on a cross-town trek just to see which Pokemon I stumble upon.
While Pokemon GO is obnoxiously cool in the gaming sense, I have to wonder if the creators realized just how beneficial this free app could be in terms of consumer health. Within hours of its release, the Twitter-sphere blew up with posts and screenshots of users already addicted to catching the Pokemon near them. As we know, America is obese – and that is probably partially due to our video game culture. Pokemon GO forces people to put down the Xbox controller, get up, and get moving.
Let’s talk about the Pokemon brand. When was the last time you talked about Pokemon? If you’re like many in my generation, it’s been a while. Now everyone is talking about Pokemon, regardless of age – even if they never played it or knew much about it. Pokemon GO has added a new dimension to those who already love (or loved) Charizard and friends. But its success is reaching non-Pokemon fans because of the game’s technological achievement. By taking augmented reality mainstream, the brand has just evolved considerably.
On the off chance that you don’t yet know how the game works, here is a quick summary. The app utilizes your GPS tracker on your smartphone to pinpoint your location and create a virtual map showing catchable Pokemon that are various distances away. In order to catch that Pikachu you have your eye on, you have to walk while the app tracks you down the block at least 300 meters. You want to hatch that egg you received at your local corner Pokestop? That’s at least a 2-kilometer hike.
According to The Washington Post, within just two days of the game’s release, users exercising 30 or more minutes per day jumped from 45 percent to 53 percent – quite the impressive leap.
While many believe that Pokemon GO is just a passing fad and may not even follow us into the month of August, it has upped the activity rate of those obsessed with it in recent days – not to mention stock prices for Nintendo. And hey, if I have to get out of bed to finally get my hands on that Meowth I’ve wanted since I was a kid, I think I’ll be okay.