How Pokémon Go Lost 10 Million Users (and What They Could Have Done to Stop it

August 24, 2016

When the latest trend in augmented reality technology splashed onto the scene (or onto our screens, should I say) last month, hordes of mobile-wielding fanatics began stampeding through streets, parks and various iconic sites in the pursuit to “catch ‘em all”.

Launching on July 6, the mobile app’s usership skyrocketed to 45 million daily users within just a few weeks.

However, since the beginning of August, the app has recorded to have lost more than 12 million users, with that decline expected to continue spiralling downwards faster than you can say “rare Vaporean sighted at Flinders Street Station”.

At a drop-off rate of 20-per-cent-and-counting, the app is clearly struggling to maintain its lustre, which begs the question…

How can mobile app developers keep their audiences interested for the long haul?

Let’s look at what initially hooked users in to the new mobile app. Largely, it was the generous dose of nostalgia sprinkled throughout the design. If we consider for a moment the primary demographic of mobile app audiences, it’s the Gen-Y audience who grew up battling Pokémon cards as wee little tackers. To bring back a favourite childhood game in digital form is simply a stroke of marketing genius.

So, that’s essentially where Pokémon Go developers went right. Where they went wrong, however, canvases a couple of different areas…

Leaving little room to evolve and re-engage audiences

When the app launched, it was wildly successful due to its innovative design. This is all well and good in achieving short-term goals, however, it doesn’t leave much space for the app to grow as a game. Let’s compare it with an analogy: say you’re at the starting line of a long-distance race. From the bang of the gun, you hurl yourself down the track faster than Rapidash. Rather than rationing your energy in order to secure that gold medal, you expend it all within the first few minutes.

Essentially, what Pokémon Go did was put all their eggs in one basket (pun wholeheartedly intended), which meant that once the novelty wore off, so did the players’ interest. In the forever-evolving digital landscape, innovation is key to survival.

Failure to tighten geo-fencing parameters

When it comes to developing apps based on geographic location, plenty of caution needs to be exercised. The glory of GPS tracking certainly has audiences enraptured and businesses capitalising on its benefits, but this revolutionary technology still has its fair share of kinks to consider. Unfortunately, Pokémon Go developers didn’t plan as thoroughly as they should have in terms of creating a geo-enabled app, resulting in Pokéstops being virtually erected in no-go zones such as private properties and even holocaust memorials. Unsurprisingly, this quickly turned off a decent percentage of users.

Poor PR performance 

The initial popularity of the app kind of let it do its marketing for it – the developers capitalised on having a killer brand, which led to fans praising the game on every platform possible. As a result, the app’s developers failed to really harness a strong PR team, which is paramount whenever you roll out a new product on the market. Sure, it might soar to success at the beginning, but when obstacles crop up and users become disgruntled, it is imperative to have a contingency plan in place to tackle damage control.

When the Pokémon Go app incorporated new updates to try battle its wonky tracking systems, it removed a certain feature of the game. Subsequently, Pokémon players didn’t hesitate to unleash their unhappiness on a plethora of social media channels, resulting in a bit of a PR nightmare. Rather than offering the quick response required and maintaining solid relationships with its customer base, the app took its time in releasing a very general online statement as a means to cover its tarnished derriere.

So, in conclusion then…

Evidently, there’s a whole comprehensive sweep of elements to consider when you decide to launch a mobile app. The fast-fizzling Pokémon Go fad just goes to show that even the most successful apps need to have a strong game plan in place in order to survive in the highly competitive digital world.


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