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Yes the hype is true. Gamespot has confirmed that Nintendo’s popular augmented-reality mobile game has pulled in more than US $440 million in profits to date. People have downloaded Pokémon Go more than 180 million times – and that’s just barely two months after it was launched.
But does it mean that the Niantic runaway app can guarantee you a killing for your business? Not really. MSN reports that a recent survey shows this early, the game peaked with its number of users steadily slowing down. Users in the US have been posting decreasing stats after hitting record numbers in July.
Disheartening news to enterprising individuals who have yet to cash in on the Pokémon Go craze perhaps, but there are a few compelling factors that may have contributed to the downtrend.
In the Philippines, while the country’s local supermalls led by SM and Robinson’s Malls, posted some of the first waves of successes from capitalizing on lure parties and Pokémon sightings in the premises, small, local establishments have yet to report how business is benefiting from the increase of traffic that comes from being a “Gym” or “Pokéstop.”
Plus, not everyone is that excited about “catching ‘em all,” especially the authorities. The Philippines’ Civil Service Commission (CSC) has already warned public servants (government workers as well as elected officials) against playing the game within official hours. In France, Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has asked Niantic to remove rare Pokémon from all schools, as this might entice non-students to enter the campus.
Similarly, a Quezon City councilor in the Philippines has filed a resolution to ban Pokémon in schools, churches and government offices, citing that the placement of Pokéstops and lure spots are inappropriate in such areas “for reasons of public safety and human decency.”
This isn’t so different from Iran and Saudi Arabia’s initiative to ban the game for “security concerns” and for being “un-Islamic.” Meanwhile, this month, in a bid to safeguard minors who play the app, New York state authorities’ has announced the ban on 3,000 registered sex offenders from playing Pokémon Go while on parole in order to safeguard children.
Besides country-wide bans, the quick rise of the free-to-play game should almost guarantee its quick downfall. Technology upgrades and turns obsolete pretty fast.
On the other hand, market watchers have also pointed out that as appealing it may seem, Pokémon Go isn’t exactly offering marketers unique data from user locations and movements to boost sales. Other apps like Waze and Facebook collect user data in like manner, which makes Pokémon Go, a GPS-driven game, not as revolutionary as it seems.
Where does that leave money-making schemes for Pokémon Go now? Despite the slowdown, there’s still room for growth. While interest from Western users has started to wane, things are just starting to pick up in South East Asia. The game has yet to be launched in India and China, which means renewed interest in other regions.
The thing is, if you’re bent on capitalizing on Pokémon Go in the here and now, you have to decide, move and act fast before the trend fades away in your area. Business activities should also not be capital-intensive and instead, should focus on marketing gimmicks meant to attract gatherings of people who are already there anyway, like distributing freebies to players who are at a certain level, or designing advertising and promotional campaigns tied to the game.
Some enterprising individuals have gone out on a limb to be a bit more creative – motorcycle drivers are offering rides P500 for the first three hours – for people who’d like to search for rare Pokémon in a particular vicinity. Others are racking up points and creating high level accounts to sell to players who just don’t have the time and the patience to reach advanced levels in Pokémon training.
Given the fleeting nature of tech trends and the short shelf life of app popularity, profit making schemes that rely on long term commitment or substantial capital investment in a mobile app may not always be the best way, not even if it’s Pokémon Go.