19 Mar 2018 19:52 IST

Third Runners-Up

Staying relevant: Convert a large fan base into a loyal one

Niantic should have a more interactive relationship with its customer base and deal with cheaters

Pokémon Go encourages players to go out, meet people and explore new places. The game is not for those who want to sit and play from the comfort of their homes. But cheaters, who spoof their location and use bots to catch Pokémon, are ruining the game for legitimate players.

Regaining consumer interest

Pokémon Go, which brings people together so that they can play with one another, never gave the option of multi-player battles (or as Pokémon enthusiasts call them, Poké Battles) and Pokémon trading, which is apparently the most important aspect of the Pokémon world.

To increase consumer interest, Niantic must make the game more interactive. Players should get an opportunity to participate in combat with others and trade Pokémons. These combats should provide experience points, which will help level up Pokémons.

To improve engagement in the single-player mode, more quests can be introduced. Overall social interactions should be increased; this social aspect of the game will ensure customer retention.

Discouraging cheaters

Cheating and the use of mods are the prime reasons for dissatisfaction among legitimate players. Niantic should take bold steps against cheaters, to deliver a fair and balanced game. A ban on cheaters should be instituted in increments. For example, the first ban should be for a week, next for a month and then permanently. To detect these players, a honey-pot can be set up — a rare Pokémon pops up at a physically unreachable location and whoever ‘catches it’ can get a warning.

Another problem is that players create multiple accounts, to get Ex-Raid passes, which restrict others from getting the same as there is a limited number of passes. To keep a check on creation of multiple accounts by one user, the accounts should be linked to the IMEI number of a device so that a cap can be put on the maximum number of accounts a person can operate.

In addition, to avoid detection, many cheaters spread their extremely rare Pokémon collection over dozens of gyms in different places. This can be addressed by putting a cap on the number of gyms a person can hold.

Leveraging the potential

Pokémon Go is not going to die any time soon. The game comes attached with feelings of nostalgia for many people. Niantic needs to create a community of players, who will keep the game alive. This can be done through:

— Collaboration with businesses: Pokémon Go can be used by business owners to attract customers to their stores by forming Poké stops/gyms, which enhance the chances of customer interaction with a business. This incentive ensures that players and businesses remain customers of the game. When combined with GPS data, this can be used as a fairly powerful marketing tool.

— Live events/tournaments: To keep the Pokémon Go community alive, raids and events can be held in a more streamlined way, unlike the previous fests, which turned out to be duds. The online community can engage in player versus player battles in tournaments. The entry passes to these events can be a source of revenue and matches can be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube (just like Counter Strike and Clash of Clans tournaments). The main objective is to increase social engagement.

— Modified game play: Regular introduction of new Pokémons, levels and quests is another important element Niantic should focus on. The thrill of comparing your Pokémons with other players and battling each other to prove whose Pokémon is better will help improve customer engagement. The company should also bring back some of its old features which initially helped attract customers.

— Customer interaction: The company should interact with its customer base on a regular basis through various social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Niantic should make customers feel as though they are an integral part of the Pokémon family. This will help build long-lasting relationships with customers.

To remain alive and relevant, all a franchise needs is a loyal fan base, and Niantic has to make sure that it converts its large fan base into a loyal fan base if it wants to stay in the game.

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