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Brand purpose drives Pokémon Go

News, 28 October 2016

SINGAPORE: Infusing core brand values of "explore, exercise, socialise" with augmented reality innovation were driving factors in the development of Pokémon Go, the game's creator has revealed.

Speaking recently in Singapore, Tatsuo Nomura explained that Niantic Labs, the company that developed the mobile gaming phenomenon, was set up with the three goals of "explore, exercise, socialise".

He emphasised that these three brand values acted as guiding lights in the game design process and were critical to the success of the game. (For more on how the gaming app has become so successful, read Warc's report: Behind Pokémon Go: Augmented reality innovation meets brand purpose.)

"In order to take people to explore places, we had a lot of experience with Ingress [a previous game] but we wanted to do something unique with Pokémon that more fit the Niantic ID," Nomura said.

The values directly influenced the company's design decisions. For example, to encourage people to exercise, Niantic gave users a "buddy Pokémon" which evolved based on how far a player walked.

Enthusiastic players have now walked 4.6bn kilometres – the equivalent distance between Earth and Pluto – to progress in the game.

"This number is more important than revenue or other numbers because our goal – our mission – is to take people outside. This number is a testament – what we believe is that the fun is actually beyond what's in your phone," he said.

Nomura also wanted to move past the traditional notion of camera-based augmented reality with Pokémon Go, encouraging developers to "explore" applications of the technology that added excitement to people's real lives.

"When you say AR, many people will think about the camera only… but I think that is just a small part of it. It's not everything," he said.

"AR should augment the reality – not augment your phone, not augment your display. It should augment your reality."

Citing how the game was used to engage autistic children, and children enduring physical therapy in hospitals, Nomura underlined that augmented reality should keep these principles in mind.

"An (autistic) kid was able to, after downloading Pokémon Go, to go outside to talk about Pokémon with other people to talk with strangers," he said. "That actually changed the kid's life – that's what I mean by augmenting realities, not just your phone. It has to augment the reality. It has to augment people's life."

Data sourced from Warc