For this final part, I will be focusing on the last 2 months of the campaign, but also Pokémon Go.
- Pokémon is the best entertainment brand, period.
- Part 1
- Part 2
- Part 3
- My google sheet with all the content
Last 2 months of the campaign
- Poké XY:
- 7 communications (11 if we include Union J/XY coop and other activities like TCG, movies and series)
- 10 features/topics
- Previews published
- Reviews published on 4th October: 10 days before game release
- Poké SuMo
- 8 communications
- 26 topics features/topics
- Strong focus on the differences between the two versions
- Demo announcement
- Previews published 1 month before
- Reviews published on 15th November: 3 days before release
- Usually, when you have a good game, you want to have your reviews up rather soon-ish (not too soon, otherwise people forget). It’s a nice way to boost D1/Pre-orders
- I’m a bit surprised that they waited this long. The only explanation that I can think of is that the pre-order numbers were already off the roof + They already had plenty of content to hook people on and wanted to use the reviews as a summary and grand finale (which is also a good option)
- Pre-order and D1 numbers communicated prior to EU launch
- Demo numbers communicated
- Final press release mentioning Pokémon Go phenomenon and TCG products
- Big launch event in some countries, with swag bags, shops, game pods, signing sessions and the chance to download Mew
Before moving to Pokémon Go, I’d like to focus on the demo, as it was brilliantly executed:
- Demo dropping around the same time as previews (more or less 1-week difference)
- Offering Greninja having a special skill when getting full game and completing the demo
- An efficient way to excite fans
- Perfect to attract new players who ask themselves what is Pokémon.
- The demo was in the form of a giant tutorial which, again, works for fans & newcomers.
The differences between both campaigns are pretty clear. In the case of Poké SuMo; a lot of content was left for the last 2 months leading to the game release. We have to keep in mind that:
- Fans will follow the full campaign and be scrutinising, while newcomers will most likely not follow everything.
- You want to transform newcomers into buyers, it’s always nice to have big reveals close to release
- Obviously, it’s better to have mainstream press onboard during the full campaign, but you have to ensure that they speak about you at release timing.
- One of the topics that mainstream press is always fond of and generates traffic/clicks is the “phenomenon” aspect of a product and the numbers behind it. This is also one of the reasons why publishers communicate about it, it creates a snowball effect.
- Pokémon Go created a lot of buzz, obviously…
Speaking of PokéGo, I decided to take a look at it and see how much of a role it played in the success. Before diving in it, please keep in mind that first, I’ll speak from a pure PR output perspective. After that, I’ll try to showcase how big of an impact the game had following this output.
Here is the timeline:
- The game was announced on 10th September 2015 through a press conference. I am not going to lie, the trailer left me in awe, and reminded me of my childhood fantasies… The thought that immediately came to my mind was “we are finally there”.
- Conference pictures
- Images of Poké+
- 6 months later, on 24th of March 2016, some features have been revealed
- 2 months later, on 25th May 2016, more details on the features have been revealed
- Game launch on 7th July 2016
- 11 months campaign
- Only 4 official communications
- 2 trailers (well, they were epic… )
- No mention at all of Poké SuMo in the communications (I have double checked all the press releases)
- Not much craziness or massive pushes
- If you stick to those numbers and facts, you would think that the campaign was “weak”…
- AND YOU WOULD BE WRONG.
- We have to keep in mind that communicating on a mobile game is slightly different than traditional games
Let’s take a look at the outcomes, thanks to articles by Thomas Bidaux from ICO Partners. Please note that I’ll be quoting him as I agree with the analysis.
Following the release, Pokémon Go media coverage was truly insane:
- ICO Partners came to the same conclusion as me: “Pokémon Go was simply released in a few countries without any event, fancy videos or much fanfare “.
- In the graph below you can see that PokémonGo managed to get by far the most articles on its highest performing week.
- Plenty of general interest websites and gaming websites covered the game with several articles a day
- The thirst was so big that some established publishing houses such as Eurogamer, RPS, VG247, Kotaku UK had their biggest days ever, in terms of traffic:
According to ICO Partners: there seems to be no game in the last three years that managed to generate nearly as many articles per day as Pokémon Go.
The game got more coverage than Zelda BoTW announcement. (But let’s be fair, Zelda was in the middle of E3):
The last comparison that ICO Partners did is pretty interesting, as it highlights mainstream outlets’ interest for the phenomenon. It is compared with Overwatch, which isn’t your normal game in terms of coverage and quality (Hi, Blizzard!):
Full-year coverage look-up:
Earlier this week, ICO Partners published their “Games in media 2016” research. Before taking a look at their conclusions, please keep in mind that “a lot of the numbers presented here are limited to video games media. We do have General Interest and Tech media in our tools, but they are not as exhaustively collected on our end“. This mention is important.
ICO Partners notes:
- PokémonGo was launched in July, but still receives an astounding amount of coverage, even when there is no update
- Game didn’t receive much coverage before its launch (As I mentioned at the beginning of this part)
- The rest of the games were covered almost a full year
The rest of the article is focusing on Overwatch and the rest of the games, but feel free to read it as it’s an amazing well of knowledge.
When you compare the outputs vs the outcomes, you do realise that PokémonGo success isn’t only based on genius Marketing/PR, but it’s mostly thanks to the game DNA/Design/concept, that created a giNiantic (No? No one? Ok… I’ll see myself out) snowball effect. I know this sounds as a sentence sponsored by Captain Obvious, but it seems to be forgotten. This game has created an incredible number of uplifting stories, and just for this, we should thank TPCi/Niantic/Nintendo/Google.
To conclude this series:
I would like to emphasise that Pokémon SuMo campaign was part of a grander scheme created by The Pokémon Company International. All of their Marketing/PR Plans sailed smoothly with one goal in mind: bring the awareness around the Pokémon brand to a whole new level. By creating PokémonGo, they allowed themselves to welcome millions of new fans. Maybe TPCi/no one expected the game to blow in these proportions, but I am certain that they have expected it to be a massive success – why would they invest millions in it otherwise…? Not only they did it brilliantly, but they have created a whole new way of playing games. Simply put: this reminds me of Pokémon launch, 20 years ago. The Poké-duo released last year was simplified (Read: a lot of QoL enhancements) for the old-school fans, and very welcoming for new fans: this is not due to luck, this is what we call a strategy.
As I noted through the article, some decisions have surprised me, but they did make sense. I don’t know what the PR team suggested, but I would have proposed to do more in terms of Behind the Scenes/Music/20y legacy. Also, I’d have suggested to create more factsheets and infographics.
I hope these articles were enjoyable, on my side, I had a blast coming up with the analysis, doing the research and so on.
Do not hesitate to drop me a line if you want to discuss it, and feel free to share it with friends and colleagues.
Thanks a lot for your time.
- Pokémon Official sites:
- Pokémon Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/pokemon
- PokémonDB: https://pokemondb.net/
- Bulbapédia: http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Main_Page
- Pokébip: https://www.pokebip.com/
- Reddit/Pokémon: https://www.reddit.com/r/pokemon
- Nintendo IR briefings: https://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/pdf/2017/170201_2e.pdf
- GamesPress: http://www.gamespress.com/
- IGN: http://www.ign.com/games/pokemon-moon-version
- ICO Partners: http://icopartners.com/reports/