It was three months ago, almost to the day, that I wrote a piece on about the astounding success of Pokemon Go. I discussed in detail the ability for Nintendo and Niantic to tap into the nostalgia that many of us grew up on, bringing the idea of catching Pokemon to (semi) real life. Upon its launch, Pokemon Go exploded; in early July the popularity was unmatched, as it became one of the most widely downloaded games on the market faster than a Pikachu Quick Attack.pikachu quick attack noble newman

Now, just three months later, the download rate is substantially lower, users are spending less and less time playing the game, and the rating in both the Android and Apple store has plummeted.

So what’s to blame for the downfall of what looked to be one of mobile’s premier breakthrough virtual reality games? Pokemon Go presents an interesting case study in stagnation for businesses, and a lesson in how to avoid it.

Avoiding Stagnation

Growth isn’t just something to strive for in business, it’s something that is required. Tech giants are notorious for growing and evolving on an essentially annual schedule. Every year or so, we get a new Call of Duty game, a new Galaxy S and a new iPhone. And while the upgrades may be small, the tech around and inside of them continues to evolve, allowing them to boast faster speeds and new features. Giants like Android and Apple are able to create and innovate regularly, ensuring that they’ll never go stale or see a drop off in users as prolific as Pokemon Go.


Setting Goals for Growth

Avoiding stagnation involves planning from the top down. It’s often said that if you’re still talking about what you did yesterday, you haven’t done much today. Setting both long and short term goals will help you avoid stagnation, giving you something to strive for every step of the way.


Customer Service & Responsiveness

One of the downfalls of Pokemon Go that relates closely to a lack of innovation was the marked absence of customer service responsiveness. Multiple players offered glitches, quick fixes, flaws and suggestions for improvement to the product and were stymied by the people running the show. Their suggestions were ignored and the novelty–something a business shouldn’t rely solely on–wore off after a bit. If Niantic had been more responsive and listened to the suggestions of its customer base, they could have worked together to grow the business and create a better user experience.



Without innovation, a business is doomed to failure. Whether it’s entering a new market or capitalizing on an existing one, the existence and novelty of a business shortly after its inception can’t be relied on for extended periods of time. Niantic helped to bring virtual reality to the masses, something for which it was widely praised. However, from there, it remained motionless. There were relatively few large-scale updates and the business model, which relied more on the relatively new VR experience instead of actual in-game content, went stale.