What Pokemon Go Can Teach About UX Design
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
For a lot of people born in the 90s, Pokemon was one of their earliest experiences with user onboarding. The flow is consistent with other Pokemon games with a wise Professor mentoring you through the basics of Pokemon and your character. This includes the professor forgetting what gender you are.
“Are you a boy or a girl?”
You have the option to personalize your character to a degree by choosing gender and a variety of outfit combinations, which is a bit limited at the moment. It was a little disappointing to know I can’t change my hairstyles or add glasses, so there aren’t many means to differentiate one trainer from another.
Seriously! They all look the same!
You can’t go on a social media platform without seeing AT LEAST one post about Pokemon Go. Aside from the obvious nostalgia factor, Pokemon Go makes it easy for users to share pictures of their Pokemon battles with its built-in camera. When you walk around the street and see someone on their cell phone, there’s a good chance they’re walking around playing Pokemon. The augmented reality game has motivated users to explore their surroundings and cooperate with others to find rare Pokemon. The chance for users to choose a team also brings a sense of unity with their respective groups so they can work together to take over Pokemon Gyms and reap the benefits.
This virality leads to a lot of potential for Pokemon Go to monetize. The standard way for most mobile games to earn revenue is through in-game ads. Pokemon Go doesn’t have any ads to speak of. Rather, trainers can use in-game currency to accelerate their enjoyment to hatch multiple eggs, buy lures, and get more Pokeballs. Earlier we mentioned the limitations to character customization, which may be another way to monetize down the road by giving users an option to purchase different hair styles, clothing, and even accessories.
There is also potential for businesses to create native experiences in the game. This can be done by setting up sponsored Pokestops with strong lures to attract both rare Pokemon and trainers to their stores. Having a company logo visible from the game map (as seen above) would be a step up from clicking on Pokestops to find out where they are. Businesses can even offer bonuses challenging trainers to capture certain Pokemon. For example, if Starbucks got on board with this model, they could offer a discount on their drinks if a trainer captured an Arbok.
“Just like a Pokemon without any moves left, I feel the struggle.”
Letting users live their childhood dream of being a Pokemon master and attaching these experiences to their real life surroundings has inspired delight. Pokemon Go’s servers experience constant lag and technical issues, which has been a primary source of frustration on the app. However, the game provides enough delight for the user that they’ll keep coming back and playing anyway. Even if it means closing and reopening the app repeatedly.
Pokemon Go has been a breakout success that introduced consumers to augmented reality experiences. It is interesting to note how the record breaking virality of the app has driven market forces by creating more foot traffic, increasing sales of iTunes and Google Play cards, and even portable power banks selling out so trainers can play and explore longer. As Pokemon Go makes more updates to their experience and fixes their server issues, the number of users can only go up. There are many who will dismiss it as a fad, but with a userbase that has surpassed Tinder and Twitter in daily active users, it is nothing to ignore lightly.