Nintendo infiltrated our imagination and is monetizing the shit out of it.
Their new app, Pokémon Go, has exploded since its release last week, already boasting more daily active users than Twitter. And while it’s free to download, players will have to – and already are – fork over some bills to get the full experience.
Because who needs the real world when you can just buy into an augmented version of it?
While the game is free to play, users are able to make in-app purchases — and that’s something they’ll will be forced to do if they want to progress in the game, according to Macquarie Capital Securities Analyst David Gibson … “As users build their Pokemon inventory, spending money becomes needed to store, train, hatch, and battle,” he writes. Gibson pointed out that the most popular Pokemon GO item in Australia is currently $0.99 worth of in-game currency meaning the game’s App Store ranking “is being driven not by big spenders but by a large number of users.”
Freemium apps are nothing new, but Nintendo’s take is rather unique in that it folds augmented reality into our daily lives. Pokémon Go isn’t just a game, it’s a heavily immersive, ongoing experience that connects reality to our personal fantasies.
This type of gaming also inspires big-time competition among users; the whole object of the game is to “be the best, like no one ever was.” That means catching every little gremlin in sight, which means buying more and more tools for the job.
But people are willing to pay to swap their daily routine with exciting opportunities (like Evee popping up on my buddy’s dashboard while stopped at a red light).
The unique application of augmented reality offers benefits for other businesses, too. A coffee shop, for example, could strike a deal with Nintendo that makes rare Pokémon pop up in front of their store. Players flock to them, get stoked when they catch them and reward themselves with a cup a joe. Everyone wins.
Nintendo didn’t invent freemium games nor augmented reality, but they combined the two and got millions of users to start paying. This is only the beginning.
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Cover image: Getty