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Keys to the downfall of Pokémon GO

06 December 2017 Asociación RUVID

An investigation led by the head of the Communication Science Department of the Universitat jaume I, Aarón Rodríguez, reveals the keys to the failure of Pokémon GO after having revolutionised the world of videogames. The study’s conclusions were published in the Revista Latina de Comunicación Social journal, and show that the lack of interactivity advanced the downfall of the videogame.

The study led by Rodríguez, a member of the Investigation into Technology Applied to Audiovisual Communication (ITACA) group, is very innovative. He explains that ‘for the first time ever, a study has  been carried out on an augmented reality videogame in Spain in order to create a profile of the gamers, their habits, the way in which they interact with the game’s mechanics and their relation with other parallel iterations within the transmedia universe they are in’.

The Pokémon GO videogame, thanks to the augmented reality technique, ‘managed to reach a wide audience, both in age and interests’, adds Rodríguez, who believes this is the first successful augmented reality outing because ‘it reached the general public, became a part of entire family’s day-to-day lives, and they would play numerous hours for months’. At the same time, his opinion is that Pokémon GO ‘revolutionised the way in which we interacted with our cities, as well as creating very strong communities through its game mechanisms, not only amongst friends, but also families, fathers, mothers, sons, grandparents and so forth that, in turn, did away with the notion of isolated gamers, even though the game is being played online’. However, its short lifespan following the worldwide popularity it had for six months was striking.

This investigation shows that the game’s dynamics would ware out quickly. “All the gamers knew what they wanted to do, but the company did not answer that interest in increased interaction; what the public wanted was to exchange Pokémon, fight among themselves, a more communal videogame – but the company did not keep up with this aspect and made the videogame fail”, Rodríguez concludes.

UJI researchers studied the perception that 332 players with a very high implication level in the world of Pokémon Go had of the game. Results showed that it was a widely well-regarded game across totally heterogeneous sectors, meaning there was not a player profile as such, but it reached men and women of all education levels, ‘a characteristic that is quite unusual compared to conventional videogames, that have a much clearer target audience’, Rodríguez points out.

Moreover, findings show that there was no clear relation with other iterations of the videogame amongst consumers, as players of Pokémon GO were not necessarily familiar with the television series, the animated films or previous videogames. Rodríguez adds that this fact ‘proves that what made the game work wasn’t its narrative framework, but the innovative mechanisms’.

On the other hand, the perception about these dynamics by the players was very homogeneous. The head reasercher argues that they were all more or less in agreement over the shortcomings and areas where the videogame could improve. “The picture we got was very clear, and was mainly related to the lack of interaction with other human users and the lack of variety of the mechanisms once they had been used several times”, he affirms.

Aarón Rodríguez Serrano holds a doctorate in Audiovisual Communication from the Universidad Europea de Madrid, a master’s degree in History and Aesthetics of Cinematography from the Universidad de Valladolid and another in New Communication Tendencies and Innovation Processes from the Universitat Jaume I in Castellón. For a decade he has been working on two converging lines of research. On one hand, the relation between audiovisual representations and the holocaust, from different perspectives, and secondly, on the trends and relations between the philosophy of the 20th Century and the film material analysis methodology, as well as their repercussions on the modern audiovisual panorama. He is a member of the Spanish Association of Movie Historians and of the Association of the Plot and Background Textual Analysis. Furthermore, he also contributes frequently as a critic in several specialised magazines of the sector, including Miradas de cine and Shangrila Textos Aparte.

The ITACA group, spearheaded by Professor in Audiovisual Communication Javier Marzal, investigates visual culture in a wide range of fields that have as a common factor the study of audiovisual media with special interest in the effects of digital technologies and sense-making processes. Its main lines of investigation are the transmedia narrative, new communication technologies, film and photography theory and history and radio and television production.

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