I’ll go ahead and assume you’ve already heard of Pokemon GO. With the game signing up more users than Twitter in less than a month, you’d need to be on an internet-free vacation to have missed it.

The hype is so intense people have even started selling services online for newcomers. The company’s made money, people can finally use AR (Augmented Reality) for something useful and entertaining. Pokemon GO has been one of the most addictive games in recent years.

Pokemon GO

But what makes this unique game such a resounding success? Here’s what you can learn about selling apps and creating experiences when you peel back the design layers of Pokemon GO.

Augmented Reality

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. After a lot of false starts and big failures, Pokemon GO is the very first AR app that’s actually pretty good to use. It’s AR facilities are as captivating as filters on Snapchat.

The way the Pokemon interact with real-world locations, is surely part of the appeal for many gamers – rather than a gimmicky marketing point for the developers to boast about.

AR is clearly the future of gaming and a lot of other mobile applications, but it’s true potential hasn’t been realized yet. Pokemon GO may be the first truly mainstream app that uses AR successfully.

This opens the door for more innovation and better features. I’m sure gamers are already expecting the next big AR game to be truly mobile like Pokemon GO.

Naturally Social

Being social isn’t for everyone. Most apps try to force it onto you, by giving you more points for sharing a victory or milestone on Twitter or social media.

There’s only a handful of games that have actually managed to pull social interactions off naturally. Think Clash of Clans, Farmville, Words with friends or that doodle sharing game that was popular a few years back.

When social features are part of the game and blend in naturally, they’re actually fun. Pokemon GO takes this a step further. You’ll meet people physically and maybe even attend a PokeWalk arranged on Facebook. It’s what’s unique and appealing about the game.


From a product design perspective, every single game is mobile mainly because it works on an actual mobile. But almost none of them require you to get off the sofa and get out there.

Pokemon is the first actually mobile game. It requires you to roam around your location and sometimes, rack up a massive mobile data bill by the end.

It takes advantage of the GPS and gyroscope built into the smart devices we all have now. It creates an experience that is immediately unique and intuitive.

Plus, this real sort of physical mobility, is actually good exercise.


This is the best part about Pokemon GO from a marketing perspective. You can actually see people engaging in the game and looking for Pokemon. Here’s what the average Pokemon GO player looks like:

average pokemon go player

It’s noticeable from a mile away and that’s great marketing for any game. When you see others playing the game outdoors, there’s immediate curiosity to start playing or try it out.

Game Communities

Pokemon GO gamers already have created their own communities, based on the teams they’ve picked in the game. All the gyms and Pokemon are out in real world locations, which means every element of the game is public. That’s a great way to have people unknowingly advocate how great and addictive the game is.

All these factors were intentionally built into the game design. It’s all so unique and well done, it’s no wonder it took the creators 20 years to get to market. We’re all just glad they did.