Pokemon Go - What's behind the hype?

Ahmad, Anna
Hyde, Kenneth
Xu, Yingzi
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

Pokémon Go, the augmented reality mobile game phenomenon, swept the world by storm in what seemed to be overnight, as it broke app and play store download history with 10 million downloads in the first week of its release on 6th July 2016. For the next few months after its release it dominated both the online and offline world with its presence. However, this dominating presence was short lived, with a lot of players no longer playing. The purpose of this research was to investigate what motivated people to play Pokémon Go and what sustained their original participation with the game, as well as to explore the reasons/motives that caused players to stop playing the game. This research explored the psychological constructs that determined a person’s willingness to engage in the game, and also the underlying motives that kept them playing and what then caused them to stop. A qualitative research approach was used, involving in-depth interviews with 10 Pokémon Go players varying in gender and age, who identified as being engaged with the game during the hype. The findings revealed that the motivation for engaging with Pokémon Go was fundamentally a social aspect which initiated a sense of belonging for the players relative to the hype. Players sought pleasure through game playing, as the game was exciting, and also provided players with nostalgia from their prior affinity to the Pokémon brand. A sense of achievement, a mode for killing time, and players entering a state of flow was also recorded. The findings of this research provide insight into how an online game or any other pastime may repeat a fad and exhibit a rapid fall in popularity after some time of enthusiastic participation. This study shows that the rapid decline of Pokemon Go participation can be attributed to a deterioration in the many factors that initially caused the upsurge of enthusiasm for the game. Those factors included a loss of novelty for the game, social influence to stop playing, technical issues, game feature issues, and players feeling the game was no longer worth the effort. Other factors such as players exhibiting no prior affinity to the Pokemon brand and an overpromised game trailer also contributed to the rapid decline of player participation with the game. These findings offer both practical and theoretical implications in regards to why players stopped playing Pokémon Go, as all of the participants who were interviewed fell under this category.

Motivation , Branded entertainment , Fads , Gaming research , Engagement
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