19 Mar 2018 19:44 IST

First Runner-Up

Create a buzz, stay engaged with the players

Social and sports events for players and tie-ups with popular brands will sustain the franchise


What steps would you take to arrest the decline in consumer interest in the Pokémon Go game?

Pokémon Go took off in a frenzy but succumbed to monotony and boredom. This calls for initiatives to revive the buzz around the game and maintain customer engagement from a long-term perspective.

Data Analytics: Some players who are consistently stuck at lower levels of the game lose interest due to lack of motivation. Using existing data, Niantic can track people who are becoming infrequent users due to this. Such people can be drawn back into the game by offering extra incentives, such as the chance to catch a rare Pokémon in their vicinity or an opportunity to get extra points.

Pokémon Go mini: Some people complained that their obsession with the game was affecting their personal life. Mini games may be developed for such people. The main app can have an option for a mini game as well. The mini game can have two versions – a time-based one, which lasts around 10-20 minutes; or a distance-based one, limited to a radius of 20-30 metres.

Real Time Interaction: Real-time interactions between people, which allow them to clinch deals with one another, can be introduced. People may exchange Pokémon on different occasions based on their needs and gain incentives accordingly. For instance, someone in the 20th level may not mind giving a Pokémon to someone in the second level, and this favour may be returned at a later date.

Clean Up Drives: The game can be associated with cleaning campaigns, where additional in-game rewards and rare Pokémon are offered to the participants. This will help the brand associate itself with good causes and build a positive brand image.

Marathons: Keeping in mind the safety of the players, special Pokémon marathon tracks may be created, where players win rare Pokémon and get a chance to battle others playing the game, thus increasing consumer engagement.

Integration: People who already have a collection of Pokémon cards can get a chance to upload the picture of their card and get a Pokémon in their current game. It would be an advantage to people who have been following Pokémon for a long time.

What measures would you put in place to discourage the cheaters?

In addition to what the company is already doing, here are a few suggestions to stop cheating:

~ Track suspicious behaviour: Niantic can form an internal credit system for people exhibiting suspicious behaviour. For example, someone may get a “+1” for slight suspicious behaviour, like a sudden increase in points, or a “+3” if they always get rare items/Pokémon. A player reaching 50 points in such manner could be banned from the game.

~ Track IP address: The IP address may be tracked to know the source of the player. They could be made to go through a verification process to stop them from having multiple accounts.

~ Pokémon population: There should also a be a provision to ensure that the Pokémon population is consistent across the globe, so that players do not resort to fake GPS apps to cheat.

What would you do to leverage Pokémon Go’s potential to become a 20-year franchise?

It takes a long-term commitment and investment to see a 20-year franchise dream come true.

The following suggestions are meant to establish and maintain not just an initial excitement but also a longer relationship with Pokémon Go users.

~ Mark your calendars: The company can plan year-long events across the globe on various dates, well ahead in time and release Pokémon calendars on January 1 every year. This will give players in different countries a sense of long-term involvement with the game and keep them engaged either throughout the year, or at least on the dates mentioned in the calendar.

~ Kids: Got to get them all: If the company can target kids early on, they are more likely to retain them as their customers, till their teenage years or even beyond. Today, children know how to operate gadgets right from the age of four or five and thus make for an easy target. Baby versions of the game could be released specifically for kids till the age of 10.

~ The Pokémon Go Movie: As a long-term perspective and one that may involve a huge investment, a ‘Pokémon Go movie’ could be released. This movie could be linked to the game, such as offering preview shows for players who have reached a certain level, or exclusive Pokémon merchandise/points for those who redeem their first day movie tickets.

~ Come to McDonalds, Leave with a Pokémon: Marketing campaigns, like tie-ups with popular restaurant chains, may go a long way in creating a buzz. They will also help maintain brand loyalty for the game. For instance, the company could launch a temporary campaign that will require players to buy a burger at McDonalds and get a surprise Pokémon at the payment counter.

(The first runners-up are first-year PGP students at IIM Indore.)