Pokemon Go Scam, A Lame Idea from the Guys with Aspergers
You remember the cards! You remember the cartoon! Now you can play the game, live and interactive! It's Pokemon GO!
And no, you won't indulge your lost inner child in the privacy of your own home or office, secretly reveling in the cuteness of your favorite pocket monster. This version is like a giant scavenger hunt, with a cell phone app, and it is played in public. You go from place to place, capturing, training, and battling Pokemon. In public, dashing from around with your face glued to a screen with a Pokemon avatar!
Oh my god, it is so embarrassing. And yes, you got that right, it is played in full view of the world.
Who's going to do that? I mean, it is 2016, digital gaming is pretty passé at this point. Actually everything smartphone and social is pretty much ubiquitous, and ubiquitous is quite firmly the opposite of trendy.
So who's gonna play it? Under twelves? Maybe. If they live downtown or in an office park; the designers might have noticed if they had any contact with normal people that most of America requires a car to get anywhere. 20 somethings? Maybe guys with baseball caps, Aspergers and a complete lack of a social life will get into it. Real people? Not so much.
But it doesn't matter! Nintendo isn't going to make money on people playing the game. This is an advertising platform!
That's right, an advertising platform that requires players to run all over town, and if you are willing to cough up the bucks to have your store or restaurant listed as a Pokemon GO "Stop" or a Pokemon Go "Gym," it will bring customers through the door. This amazing app doesn't simply show your product or announce your location and hours, as part of the game, players will come into your store to complete sets of tasks and acquire digital goodies for game play.
The hype machine has hailed it as genius.
But the hype machine is an echo chamber of poorly paid bloggers who copy each other's trending articles. So they probably aren't the best place to look for breakthrough technology or investment advice. And the bigger point of Pokemon GO is investment hype and stock prices, and not a quality game experience or advertising platform.
The Pokemon GO scam is not about ripping off the players, who don't have much money anyway, it is about ripping off investors. It's all just hype. The Pokemon GO scam requires investors to believe that advertisers really will pay to have hordes of kids run through their stores to play a game.And the dirty secret of the Pokemon GO scam, is that even if everyone knows there won't be that many players, or that many advertisers, if you buy the stock at the beginning of the hype train, you can make a killing by the end of it and cash out.
That's what consumer level tech has become, one hype machine after the other. It began with Apple, which was admittedly cool and useful. Then moved onto the likes of Facebook, considerably less 'essential' but cool for a while, and ends with the Pokemon GO scam, which is pointless and lame to the point of embarrassment. But a couple of upticks in the stock could make you some quick sweet cash, although that chance has probably passed by the time you have read this.
How Did Tech Go From Apple to the Pokemon GO Scam?
How do the smartest guys in the world continue to deliver up such remarkable duds?
It's simple, the "smartest" guys in the world are actually pretty lame. It's the Revenge of the Revenge of the Nerds. These are the guys with the baseball caps (which they think are cool), Aspergers (which they are proud of because it is the smart guy's syndrome) and the zero score social life (which they aren't proud of but can't figure any way out of).
Or if you want to put it another way, an entirely homogeneous group of 20-somethings, with a tendency toward Aspergers Syndrome, don't get what makes other people tick. The syndrome causes emotional detachment, lack of affect, a pronounced appreciation for rules and rituals (i.e. mathematically derived games), and an inability to relate to others. Thus, they make products they like, but nobody else does.
As evidence, Pokemon GO is not an isolated incident. Who can forget Windows 8, which lacked a start button. This wasn't a problem for the geniuses, but it left us lesser mortals confused and frustrated. Does anyone even remember Four Square? More recently, a host of big name launches bombed into oblivion before they could leave an imprint on the public memory; Blackberry Passport, Sony PlayStation TV, Microsoft Kinect, Google Glass, and literally thousands of other gadgets, games and apps that never even made it across the awareness threshold.
What gives? How has all of that technological promise just fizzled? Has the world simply burned out on gadgetry?
It could be burnout, after all, at one time smartphones were new and shiny. Now they are ubiquitous, an item you must have for communication, work and life, and for the cash-strapped 20 somethings, smartphones are just about as fun and sexy as the phone bill and car insurance.
More profoundly, looking over the new releases, one wonders what they were even thinking. Almost everything that is released as world changing, feels more like a tweak. Yeah, we all fell for Facebook, a better funded more mercenary version of MySpace. If that's the model, it seems that the public has had enough of it.
So now, Pokemon GO will change the world. The glorified scavenger hunt fails to capitalize on what smartphone apps do best, providing information or mindless entertainment at your fingertips, making them perfect for use while waiting in line at the grocery store, taking a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or waiting for the bus. An app that requires movement in pursuit of the goal requires dedicated time, and frankly, smartphones are about using idle time. But, if the smartest guys in the world understood how normal people think and live, they would already know this.
The techies can't see it, because they are locked in a world of group think. Silicon Valley and all of its myriad spin offs are famously homogeneous, leaving them vulnerable to pervasive group think. One of the most audacious examples being HubSpots 'Molly the Bear,' which is a stuffed animal brought to every meeting of the Board of Directors, where she sits as a stand-in for the customer. And yes, they literally talk to her and ask her questions. More than lame, it's super-lame.
Group think is a well-known problem in organizations. One which even the U.S. Military takes pains to avoid (not successfully at all times) by deliberately building diversity into planning meetings and strategy sessions. It sounds corny but diversity can be a strength. If you want to know how 12 year-olds feel about a game or a concept, you can assume and guess your stuffed bear, or you can simply ask the actual kids.
Asking the customer what they think, through product demos and focus groups used to be a staple of product development in the bad old days of physical products, like cars and stovetops and Barbie Dolls. You get all kinds of useful information that way.
In the hyper-speed world of tech start-ups, there doesn't seem to be any time for focus groups and product development. It is all about, we're smart and we know best. Besides, hyper-secrecy would make such a policy impossible, you would have to kill the entire focus group after revealing that the next iPhone version may be water resistant.
Had the developers of Pokemon GO bothered to ask anyone who owned a store and had a modicum of advertising experience, they would also have spotted the problem with bringing 'people' into the stores. Stores don't need 'people' they need 'customers.' A troop of Pokemon GO players, intent on getting a new skill or another ball, are not customers. They are a crowd that gets in the way of customers. You can just picture them in front of the Chanel counter, prime retail space, staring at their phones to complete a task before they run off to the next way point. It's super lame. Now it might work for a convenience store, one could picture players getting thirsty or hungry and grabbing a bite while its handy, but beyond that, it is hardly a boom.
Advertisers have to ask, what is it worth to bring a bunch of random people into my store? What is the possible conversion rate of Pokemon GO players? Keep in mind, people will cruise the mall somewhat randomly, but almost everyone who goes shopping is actually searching for a particular item. They aren't rats who buy stuff because it shows up in the maze. That's how you play video games, which are not the real world. Something which constantly frustrates game designers who try to apply game strategies to real world retail.
And when the hype machine winds down, the newness wears off, the reality that this game requires a lot of random here and there, it will all fade into a lot of nothing. After all, you can't really play it while waiting for your latte, because it requires dedicated time. And who the hell has a free afternoon, to wander to places they really don't want to go to at all, in order to capture digital balls and 'wild' Pokemon? Yeah, super lame. Who would do that? I'm sure there is somebody, just not enough to make it work.
Put the stupid Molly bear away, put the stupid baseball cap away, that hasn't been cool since I don't know, 1991? Its been years since apps were cool, and there hasn't been a "hit" app for just as long. Echo chamber hype isn't going to change that. Even the dramatic rise of autism disorder isn't going to make this game a hit.
One of the most common World Patent Marketing complaints is from inventors who think they have a cutting edge idea, that like the Pokemon GO scam don't offer much more than an annoying use of capital letters and an also-ran tweak to an old and tired idea. World Patent Marketing Scott Cooper, CEO and Creative Director, searches for new ideas, that will generate real profits for inventors and investors.