The phenomenon known as Pokémon GO is taking the heights of augmented-reality gaming to a whole new level. This game-changer has seduced the masses into virtual game-play in parks, streets and “Pokéstops” all around the world. What made it’s launch so great and what could be improved? Here’s a few ideas from the Product world:
- In UX, onboarding strategy is key
To ease players into the new game, they were given a taste of the classic experience they have grown to love in the previous versions. The music and characters are familiar. Creating the in-game character is as easy as scrolling through a few colors and deciding on a handful of items. Simple is effective. The entire onboarding experience is smooth, it’s easy to start playing right away, making it tempting for everyone, and easy for everyone – fueling its viral expansion. Oh and speaking of viral, thanks to the social sharing interactive gameplay, the social experience throughout the cities is making this viral wave last.
- We do not build products for ourselves
The focus is the customer. The customer will interacts with the product, they are the reason we design, develop and build awesome products. Pokémon did this perfectly when it focused the experience of the user from launching the game for the first time, straight into gameplay. Not to mention, it’s easy to play, and built to play on the “GO”.
- Build engagement through progress
The challenges are progressive throughout the game and each level, and build player involvement. Each player receives an adorable Pokémon when they catch one or a reward or as they move up levels. This is the type of interactivity that motivates more game play.
- Design user interaction based around an exclusive party – where everyone is invited
Within just the first week of the game launch, it’s impossible to walk down the street without seeing people trying to “Catch them all.” This game is pulling a collective of communities into this virtual reality where everyone is on the same mission. Taking it even further, we can now find groups of people at various “Pokéstops” everywhere coming together in search of Pokémon, or looking for a gym challenge. The experience creates a challenge while at the same time, collaboration.
- Know and connect with your customers
Niantic and the developers of Pokémon GO knew their customers would be most of the millennials or many people under 30 all over the world. They understand their behaviors, They have had 20 years to get to know their customers, and they learned to understand them very well.
- Timing can be everything
The launch of a new product is strategically planned. We now have this new awesome, engaging game to play outside and with many others, in the summer. Tweens are out of school, nostalgic parents are home, and the weather is perfect for community exploration.
- Develop based on a system that has proven to work
A Product Manager doesn’t need to consistently reinvent the wheel… just innovate it – then apply it to your unique product to build something awesome for your customers. The first augmented-reality game created by Niantic was actually designed and developed while Niantic was still housed by Google,called Ingress. Many of the features are similar, but Pokémon took those features and improved them.. And gave them a specialized use within Pokémon.
The launch of this addicting game was a huge success, but with the overnight global popularity came a host of technical issues. Jammed servers have been crashing, kicking anticipating players out before even getting to the login screen, and new users have not been successful in creating their accounts. The Pokémon team has addressed this in their Twitter post stating:
“Trainers! We have been working to fix the #PokemonGO server issues. Thank you for your patience. We’ll post an update soon.”
Points to Improve
Niantic got everyone’s attention with this app. In order to maintain players interest and attention they could implement push notifications that alert users when there is a Pokémon nearby and users have the screen turned off. To take a step further, it could connect to an Apple Watch app that would help users receive those push notifications.