Learning From The Success of Pokemon Go

When Pokemon Go launched in July of this year, no one expected it to become the smash hit that it is. Yet, nearly a month later, with more daily users than Twitter and one of the fastest selling apps to date, the latest game from Silicon Valley-based Niantic, Inc. (who also brought us Ingress) is an undeniable phenomenon. But how and why?

Pokemon Go, Pokeball

Afterall, the Pokemon franchise from Nintendo is 20 years old. While iconic, many might guess it would have peaked and reached niche status by now. And in a way it has, but that’s  a part of the lure of the game. The game has been the biggest hit with those who grew up with Pokemon rather than those who know nothing about it (though they’ve gotten involved as well), and the decision to make it that way is most clear in the choice of platform for the game: mobile phone versus Nintendo DS or another device targeted to children.

Over half of all adults in the U.S. own smartphones, 64% to be exact. In 2016, people use their phones to do pretty much everything, from paying bills to trading stocks and interacting with people on social media. Gaming on mobile devices is also up, and the creators of the game understood that concept well enough to follow suit, going to where their audience is rather than requiring them to adopt a new device altogether. By doing so, Pokemon Go becomes an instant reminder anytime one’s phone is in hand, which is pretty much all the time, and the addictive qualities therein are enhanced.

Pikachu character from the Pokemon game
Pikachu

Additionally, the creators of the game understood what people most enjoy about it–the idea of catching, training and battling cute, cuddly creatures. Yet, they took it a step further by integrating the virtual world of the game into our real one. The result: an augmented reality version of a game from one’s childhood, which incorporates GPS and the mobile devices people use daily. It’s almost too good to be true for those who enjoy adventure and competition, and that’s just the beginning.

 

The game sealed the deal by adding a social component to the entire process. Unlike the seclusion for which video games and mobile usage are known, people actually left their homes, joined others in parks, stores and other public places, all because of the game. It’s rather impressive.

Pokemon Go

Of course, the game has not gone without criticism. Some have played carelessly, including trying to catch Pokemon while driving. The game has also been blamed for drawing unwanted tourists into certain spaces. Despite its hiccups, there is no denying the success of Pokemon Go as the biggest game in mobile history. It is certainly something every creative can learn from.

 

Advertisements

Using Mobile Games to Educate Kids

Kids love mobile devices. More specifically, tablets, such as Apple’s iPad or the Kindle by Amazon. For children, tablets offer a chance to watch shows, play games and, sometimes, speak with relatives outside of the home. Furthermore, these gadgets are attractive because they are interactive, require the use of finger movement, and are one of the few things children can control themselves. So, kids love them and parents adore them because it keeps kids occupied and quiet. Hence, it’s no surprise that 30 percent of children in the U.S. engage with some of form of mobile device while still in diapers.

kids-playing-1253096_960_720
Young boy playing with a tablet device

Yet, as a part of our culture, some of these tools, or the constant access to them, have become problematic. As a result, professionals have called on parents to limit the time with which their children spend on devices, citing reasons from impaired vision to lack of imagination and, quite literally, addiction. Initially health communities responded by encouraging parents to cut out use altogether, or to drastically limit time by only a few hours a day. Understanding the complications such places on adults, who are themselves always attached to some tech device, organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics now suggest that parents do more monitor their child’s activity and to establish “digital-free zones.”

children-learning-888892_960_720
Young boy with an iPhone

Their suggestions are great and most certainly will help parents guide their children through proper use of such devices. I would add that during the time children use these devices, over half should be used for educational purposes. It’s likely that a child would want to play a game, why not make sure the game is a teaching opportunity rather than a time waster? Writing for the Huffington Post, this is what Catriona Wallis had to say about this very concept:

 

“If playing digital games is now an integral part of our young learners lives, then it makes sense for teachers and parents to use this to motivate children to learn.”

baby-921807_960_720
A child reading
chess-1214226_960_720
mobile chess board

The benefit is simple. Children will get their time to use the phone or iPad, they will be occupied and quiet, and they will also learn something in the process. In a very comprehensive list, Parents.com shares 30 educational apps/games for your child to play when she or he has access to a mobile device. In addition to books and schooling, this is a great way to reinforce the importance of learning and maximize those very integral stages of development in childhood.

baby-84626_960_720
Baby using a computer

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think these gadgets should be used for entertainment or for learning? Let me know!

 

Follow Anthony Beyer on Twitter and Slideshare.

a creative team working on developing a brand

Best Ways To Promote Your App With Little Money

someone using an iphone 5
iPhone Apps

You’ve spent months creating an app, now you’ll need to spend some time getting people to use it. While you could just “put it out there” and hope that people find it, your app will literally be one in a million, and someone coming across it will be almost solely by accident. That’s not what you want.

I acknowledge that promotion can be expensive in the traditional sense. However, using all of the tools available to you, you could get a lot of movement and foundational success for little to no money. Here’s how:

a creative team working on developing a brand
Getting Creative
  1. Brand It
    While the app has been designed, either by yourself or a graphic specialist with whom you’ve worked, it is not the brand entirely. For promotional purposes, you will need to decide the best way to communicate what the app is and whom you’re trying to reach, using minimal imagery that’s easily transferable across various forms of media. That includes: a logo, color scheme, a possible tagline and proper messaging to accompany said content. This part of the process can be costly if you’re outsourcing the work; however, you would do best to work directly with the designer of your app to include brand deliverables in the overall package at the start of the project.

    two gentlemen in conversation
    Spread the News
  2. Talk To Me
    Without giving too much away, share your progress and anticipated release details with friends and fans. In fact, you should be speaking with everyone you meet and have a conversation with about this “thing” they can expect soon. Reality is, you never know with whom you’ll come in contact, and networking opportunities are all around. Take advantage of the benefit of word of mouth–the most successful form of promotion, even in the age of technology.

    While many forego this step because they’d rather surprise everyone, or perhaps, for fear that someone will capitalize off the idea, neither is really a problem. One, you will need to set expectations of your fans so they’ll be able to associate the product with your name once it’s released and get others to anticipate. Regarding someone coming up with a similar idea as your own, aside from a possible patent or copyright, there’s nothing preventing them from doing the same even after you’ve introduced your app. Don’t be afraid to speak up. The odds are more in your favor.

    Someone working on the computer
    Managing Social Media
  3. Get Social
    Just because word of mouth is effective, doesn’t mean you should neglect the wonderful world of tech we have available. You will need a website with your brand materials and some information about the app, such as: release date, capabilities, and platform availability. Additionally, you’ll need a social media presence. Create a Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter accounts, and build an audience through those channels to receive news and information about your product. Using hashtags and following like-minded individuals can attract the right audience to your pages and drum up interest in the best way possible.

    preparing to watch a video
    Videos Can Be Helpful
  4. Show And Tell
    Even with information on your website and things said in conversation, some messages can get lost in translation. The best way to counter that is to show people how they can use the app, and all of its functionality, with a tutorial like this one. Keep in mind that some people learn visually, and that video platforms further expand the reach of your audience with people you may not have reached otherwise. Make sure the app is already available so that there can be a call to action like, “download now,” immediately following the video. Make sure it’s comprehensive, easily understandable, and good quality.

    reading the newspaper
    Tell The Story
  5. Meet The Press
    Now, one of the most important things you should be doing once you’ve exhausted yourself and your friends getting the word out there, is to get other people to talk about what you’ve done. Pitching stories to publications which have access to people who use a product you’re hoping to sell is a no-brainer. Spend some time learning about press releases and various channels, and be sure to submit something that is worth publishing. You may have to tweak the stories to fit a tone or news of certain publication–some may be more technical, others may be more interested in graphics. Know what you’re getting into and focus on the ones that are most sensible for your product.

Why Game Developers Prefer iOS

Black iPhone showcasing native apps, held by Anthony Beyer
Anthony Beyer – iPhone home screen

Less than a decade ago, the iPhone launched and changed the worlds of tech and telecommunications forever. One of many brainchildren of the late Steve Jobs, the iPhone’s popularity with consumers quickly dominated all conversation about smartphones, upon its release, from apps to the relevance of a keyboard, its appearance (at the time, it was available only in black with silver), and, of course, its unique operating system. Since that time, however, it has experienced stiff competition in the mobile devices/software sector, most notably from Google-powered Android systems.

In 2014, nearly 7 years after its initial release, the iPhone had amassed over 470 million sales of its product; the incredible growth has been lauded by companies and investors the world over. Still, the number pales in comparison to the amount of devices which operate on the Android system: a whopping 1 billion users, which is more than half of iPhone/iOS users, overall. With such a large difference, it would seem that game/app developers would be looking to get their creations into as many hands as possible. Think about it, 1 billion people with access to a game you created would be cool, to say the least. However, for many developers, it’s not at all that simple.

A black iPhone 6 with purple home screen on AMOLED display, pictured in Anthony Beyer's car.
Anthony Beyer – iPhone 6

In fact, simplicity is just one of the reasons developers are choosing to launch on iOS as opposed to Android. Considering that iOS only runs on Apple devices, developers only have to test a few models, about 10, according game developer Barry Meade. On the other hand, Android runs on a number of different devices from various companies, with multifarious hardware, interfaces, etc. As a result, developers may have to test up hundreds–yes, hundreds–of different devices to ensure that the game works properly across all platforms.

Subsequently, most developers go with an iOS first strategy, resulting in a slow rollout of games on the Android side. Ben Kuchera, writing for Polygon, further explained the reason behind this, saying: “…with an iOS-first strategy you can release the game to many users with only a small chance of bugs arising due to differences in hardware, which means that when a bug does arise on iOS it’s likely unconnected to the hardware and by fixing it, you are also fixing that bug for any future Android build.”

A picture of a phone running android software, taken by Anthony Beyer.
Anthony Beyer – Phone running Android Software

But that isn’t the only reason developers prefer iOS to Android. According to multiple studies, like this one by App Annie Index, Apple’s iOS users buy more apps than Android users. Furthermore, they spend nearly four times as much on apps, despite the large differences in the number of users worldwide. Also, Android development typically costs 30% more than iOS development. Therefore, by choosing to place games on iOS, developers are getting more bang for their buck in multiple ways.

Nevertheless, Kuchera did make clear that the preference for Apple has nothing to do with Android users, themselves. In the previously-linked article, he expressed that Android users were great and that the experience with the software was pleasant. However, he clarified, “as a dev you’ve also got to take the platform’s particularities into account. One thing I knew going into it was that the ‘unpaid install’ rate would likely be around 95 percent and this is exactly what I’ve observed. In a lot of cases the smart thing to do is to convert your premium game to be free-to-play on Android, but that just didn’t make sense for Prune, nor was it something that I was personally interested in.”

Anthony Beyer opens his new smartwatch

Gaming & The Smartwatch

Anthony Beyer's photo of high tech, black and blue smartwatch.
Anthony Beyer – Futuristic Smartwatch

From arcade games to consoles, computers to Game Boys, and smartphones to tablets, gaming and, therefore, game development has evolved rapidly over the last three decades. As technology has continued to expand, so has the world of development and possibilities for creatives in the industry. Yet, while cell phones are seemingly getting larger, with a desire for more visual space from consumers, another much, much smaller platform is on the horizon, providing an additional though exciting challenge for developers: the smartwatch.

While some publications like TechRadar.com have traced the history of the smartwatch to the early 1980s–with Seiko’s Pulsar NL C01, which could be connected to a printer and included a memory cartridge slot–the devices of yesteryear were not nearly as advanced as what is available to consumers now, mostly because of technological advances, like bluetooth and wireless connectivity, some 30 years later. In fact, up until very recently, the popularity and overall necessity of such a device was uncertain. Yet, with Apple selling 6 million of the devices since its release earlier this year, and with expectations to double that number with 4th quarter holiday sales, eyes are on the smartwatch as the next big (figuratively speaking, of course) thing.

Anthony Beyer's photo of an apple watch with the clock, date and time displayed
Anthony Beyer – Smartwatch Clock

Aki Järvilehto, CEO and founder of Everywear Games, personally believes that the smartwatch is the ideal gaming platform. Speaking about the Apple Watch, specifically, he said the smartwatch will change the development world for the following reasons: “They’re always available and will get you in the game in seconds, much faster than any other platform. We are already seeing a frequency of use among our players that is simply unprecedented in games.” And unlike other platforms, games are shorter, more simple, or what Järvilehto has called “Twitter-sized” entertainment, making games on the device possibly more addictive, resulting in more frequent use.

Not everyone is sold on smartwatch gaming, however. Some of the caution has been attributed to the difficulty for developers to manage advertising and for the lack of interest in paid games, in comparison to other platforms, at present. Nevertheless, experts suggest that dismissing the idea altogether could be a mistake, considering that shifts in gaming have been consistent with almost every new invention, using the fact that mobile gaming has exceeded desktop gaming in popularity, as an example.

Another factor for developers to consider is the decline in growth in mobile gaming revenue. Recent datashows that revenue of six popular mobile gaming companies grew a combined 1 percent in the second quarter of 2015, in stark contrast to the rapid growth in years prior, signaling that the market is at maturity. Research analyst and CFO for Zynga Asia suggests that what could save the industry is development in untapped markets and “unexplored territories.”

Anthony Beyer on a drive with, using his smartwatch for directions
Anthony Beyer – Driving with a Smartwatch

At any rate, smartwatch gaming is relatively new, so skepticism is natural. However, all signs point to continued growth and advancement. As with anything else, those who get there first will have some advantages and will likely be first to see the benefits. It’s too early to tell whether the platform will be as large as, say, cell phones or desktop; however, there is growth and that deserves some consideration.