I just finished a road trip to the East Coast. I had to endure hours of endless chatter by my traveling companions regarding PokemonGO. We are building some drive-in environments and my mind was focused on noise variances and concession make-up (yes regionally skewed concessions are a very good thing). It was not the case of my associates who were draining their phones repeatedly in their crusade to capture some kind of fictional character.
While I think the whole thing is deeply silly, I know in my hear unfortunately that I should be paying deeper attention to the whole phenomena because in it holds a deep lesson for theatre owners.
Pokémon Go is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game developed and published by Niantic for iOS and Android devices. It was initially released in selected countries in July 2016. In the game, players use a mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. The game supports in-app purchases for additional in-game items.
Pokémon Go was released to mixed reviews, but enormous popularity. Reviewers praised the game’s concept and the incentive to be more active in the real world, while criticizing technical issues apparent at launch. Despite such reviews, it quickly became an overnight global phenomenon and one of the most used mobile apps, reportedly having been downloaded by more than 75 million people worldwide. It was credited with popularizing location-based and augmented reality gaming, as well as for promoting physical activity. However, it has also attracted controversy for contributing to accidents and becoming a public nuisance at some locations.
The game has been referred to as a “social media phenomenon” which has brought people together from all walks of life.Numerous media outlets referred to the surge in popularity as “Pokémon Go Mania” or simply “Pokémania”.
The massive popularity of the game resulted in several unusual positive effects. For example, the game enabled players to help catch criminals and to report crimes in progress, and has even aided law enforcement’s community relations, albeit with caveats. Businesses have benefited from the nearby presence of PokéStopswith the concomitant influx of people, and the intense exploration of communities has brought local history to the forefront. Some establishments considered purchasing lures in the game to attract additional players to PokéStops on their property.Within a week of its release, a secondary market emerged for the game, both for the resell of high-level accounts on Craigslist and PlayerUp, and for the sale of expert advice on Thumbtack.Wireless provider T-Mobile US started an offer for free data for a year for Pokémon Go sessions, and Yelp added a filter that only shows businesses which have a PokéStop nearby.
National parks across the United States saw an influx of visitors due to the game, with “hundreds or thousands” of people visiting the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. on the weekend following Pokémon Go’s release in the country. Small museums with PokéStops placed at exhibits also reported increased attendance, such as the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, and the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Boca Raton, Florida.Charity organizations also sought engagement from players, with animal shelters offering dog walks to people who want to hatch eggs.
Here where movies and the Pokemon Go craze cross paths. The number of frequent moviegoers in the all-important 18-24 age group plunged an unprecedented 17% in 2013, according to MPAA annual statistics released at the last Cinemacon, while attendance in the 12-17 age bracket also saw a precipitous drop off, falling almost 15%. This is more that significant. This demographic at one represented the economic core of the film going audience. But due to compelling nature of gaming, moviegoing has been eroded significantly by the gaming industry. 18 to 245 years in droves have been parking themselves on basement couches throughout North America and have stopped going to the movies.
Here is a simple fact: The video game industry made twice as much money in 2013 than did the film industry.
Worldwide box-office revenue for the film industry in 2013 was $35.9 billion (source Theatrical Market Statistics 2013). Worldwide revenue for the video game industry in 2013 was $70.4 billion (source: 2013 Global Games Market Report).
Here is also a fact : Pokemon Go is a bona fide a phenomenon.
Perhaps more importantly, it’s a phenomenon that many people never saw coming. I’m not merely talking about gamers here. People who don’t normally play games, and who don’t play Pokémon games, are talking about Pokémon GO. But for theatre owners audiences which have for years have hid themselves in basements and in dark corners are now emerging into the daylight for the first time in decades. Gamers are leaving their homes, and go out into the world to hunt for Pokémon This is truly remarkable. Gaming is now becoming because of Pokemon Go a social event to be held in public spaces. Gaming has ceased being confined to basements,
Gaming has walked into the light and is now being shaped as a group public play event as well as a spectator sport. ESports is a term that refers to competitive video game playing. It is similar to terms like professional gaming, competitive gaming, and cybersport. Its origins can be traced back to the 1970’s . The term itself, however, dates back to the late 1990’s. It is rapidly growing in popularity, not only in terms of players participating in eSports matches, but also in terms of spectators of eSports. Large events can have thousands of spectators on-site and hundreds of thousands of spectators following the action online. Players can compete with each other around the world, by means of the Internet and other preceding network technologies.
In Europe and Asia, we are seeing E-Sporting events fill 20,000 seat arenas. Turner Broadcast is leading an initiative to make gaming a major television sporting event.
Consider this, if theatres can integrate gaming environments into their multiplexes, they have an opportunity to bring back the 18-24 core audience. They can revitalize dead screens and can increase revenue opportunities through both direct game play and also broadcast these gaming spectacles. It will also see a huge rise in concession play. As a parent of a teenager I can attest to the fact that these kids eat……
It’s something to really thing about as you see hordes of teenager walk around your town seeking to capture the elusive Bulbasaur or Digleet. I don’;t get it ….but they do and we want them back in the theatre.
I have a couple of companies who want to partner with theatres in the gaming space. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you want further information.