Life as Games: Pokemon Go to Our Store and Buy Our Stuff

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If you have been perusing this blog, there is no secret that gamification is our of our favorite subjects. With research showing that it increases engagement by 29% by implementing some relatively simple concepts, it’s no wonder why we have an obsession with the subject.

And speaking of time crippling infatuations, right now the object that people lust over is just that, a game. And not just any game, a game whose origins go back almost 2 decades. I remember when I was a youngin’, Pokemon ruled my life. I was one of the first two in my grade to capture all 150 Pokemon, and owned the most incendiary decks in the whole school. I was obsessed.

So obsessed, that I’d argue that it was the first major project I took on in my life, and to this day one of the most time consuming. You might laugh, but as a 10 year old, it was not easy coordinating among friends and Poke enemies the logistics of trading with them for Pokemon that were not available in your version. You had to learn to negotiate, to be shrewd, and to most importantly, be a an effective communicator. I’d venture to guess that Pokemon was like this for a lot of people my age, since, to this day, I still have friends I would have never made if it wasn’t for the Poke-crack that engulfed literally my entire grade in its colorful, Japanese shadow.

So why was this such a phenomena? Simple: it forced you to engage on a level that wasn’t just a game like Tetris. It has intrinsic motivating value. It gave you something to aspire to, and to aspire to be the very best that no one ever was, the real test was making new friends, and learning the value of healthy competition. And with socializing, and competition being one of the cornerstones of being human — with no man being an island, and no culture not having a sport — it was almost natural that this phenomenon would take over.


And that it has again. In under a week, Pokemon Go has already overtaken Tinder, and is about to surpass Twitter in users. I mean, people would rather play Pokemon than get laid! It even has been reported that it is helping otherwise depressed and anxious people cope with their depression; increasing their engagement with the world by forcing them to go outside, socialize, and earn something of intrinsic value. Why? Because in this Augmented Reality game, it requires you to actually go outside in the real world, to different locations, to test your skills as a Pokemon trainer.

So how can us, as brands, utilize this phenomenon? Well, look no further than to the brands that are already doing it.

In the game, one of the items you can use to attract more Pokemon (and ultimately players seeking those Pokemon), is a lure. Basically, it’s a GPS marker near or around your place of business. And that’s exactly what this pizza shop did: they gave you an impressive $4 off your meal if you spent 1 dollar in the in-game store to buy a lure and drop it near their store. A lure, indeed. 

Pizza place utilizing Pokemon Go as a marketing campaign

Another example? The CitySen lounge. They went a step further and promoted an In-Group/team mentality surrounding this cultural phenomena, where people who belonged to the in game Team Mystic received 10% off their purchase.  

A picture of a Pokemon Go crowdsourcing campaign by CitySen Lounge
Image credit: Minkus27/Reddit

While there is no way of really knowing how effective this is, however, if it was effective enough to lure 11 teenagers into an armed robbery situation, it has to be somewhat effective. Maybe not super effective like a flamethrower on a Bulbasaur, but effective nevertheless.


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