Why do people play location-based augmented reality games: A study on Pokémon GO
This article reviews findings from a survey of over 2, 000 Pokémon GO players regarding their motivations to play the game.
Earlier experiences, especially with the same franchise, social influence, and popularity were the most common reasons to adopt the game, while progressing in the game was the most frequently reported reason to continue playing. The player's personal situation outside the game and playability problems were the most significant reasons to quit the game.
The Pokémon GO brand is widely known, it has nostalgic value, and its characters are simple and attractive even if one is unfamiliar with them. The “gotta catch ‘em all” theme of Pokémon is well suited for a location-based game where the player can go to different places to find and catch different creatures.
Reasons to start playing Pokémon GO
As many as 43.9% of the respondents reported experience with fandom for similar types of games or hobbies as a reason to pick up the game. Out of these, experience with Pokémon was by far the most frequent reason to start playing, mentioned by 39.6% of the respondents. The idea of the game brought up nostalgic feelings of childhood moments playing Pokémon. Some dreamt of being a Pokémon trainer as a child, and the game felt as the closest thing to fulfill that dream. In a smaller margin were previous experiences with geocaching, Ingress (Niantic, 2013) or other location-based games, or playing games in general.
Parents mentioned either wanting to be more informed about their children's activities or wanting something common to do together with them. Similarly, a friend's or a partner's recommendations or wanting to spend time with them while playing were reported.
The hype around the game and the visibility of the players had a major effect
Physical exercise and spending time outdoors while playing were appealing. In addition, the respondents liked the idea of being encouraged to explore their surroundings and new areas.
Location-based characteristics or AR, was a reason to try the game.
SITUATION and CONVENIENCE
Wanting something fun to do while doing other less interesting activities, or having a conveniently located PokéStop nearby. Some mentioned having a new phone, which made trying the game out convenient. The game being free and good weather were also mentioned.
People stated they picked up the game because they wanted to keep up with the times.
The general sociability of the game, liking to compete or wanting to help others were brought up. Some felt that playing would be a good opportunity to meet new people, even potential partners.
Looking for, hunting, and collecting Pokémon was fun. The “treasure hunt” like gameplay was seen as exciting.
THE NATURE OF THE GAME
Being casual enough and having easy access, was appealing.
Reasons to continue playing Pokémon GO
The most common individual reason to keep on playing was collecting Pokémon. Achieving personal goals, the joy of discovery, and the general feel of advancement.
Again, exercise and outdoor activities interested the players, and having a reason to go out and walk was motivating.
Whether wanting to meet new people while playing or playing together with friends or family. The game functioned as an easy way to connect people together and create a feel of community.
This could mean parents wanting to be up to date and informed about their children's hobby or avoiding being left out of social circles when all friends were still playing the game.
The game continued to feel interesting or fun.
Some players were curious about how the game was going to change or waiting for a specific update.
THE NATURE OF THE GAME
The casual nature of the game, making it easy to play, while others felt that the challenging nature was positive. The game provided surprises and was rewarding.
While previous experiences, especially with the Pokémon brand, were brought up as the number one reason to start the game, they were rarely mentioned as the reason to continue playing.
Only a few respondents reported technology related reasons to continue playing, for instance liking the location-based properties or the AR features.
Reasons to stop playing Pokémon GO
Getting bored, a lack of time or money, poor or cold weather, and health problems were mentioned, while some had quit due to their phone breaking or the game not working where they lived. Some had achieved their goal and had thus decided to quit, while others felt the hype was settling down.
The leveling curve was seen to be too steep: the required experience points needed for a new level rose exponentially, while the earned experience points stayed the same, making it necessary to grind to advance. Similarly, when reaching a certain point in collecting the Pokémon, it became increasingly hard to find any new ones to advance towards the goal of catching them all.
Bugs, the game crashing or not registering the walked distances properly were mentioned. The respondents criticized the unequal gaming possibilities due to the Pokémon and PokéStops being concentrated to city centers. In addition, some disliked that you needed to keep the game active at all times even when playing passively. This caused the battery to drain.
The shortcomings of the game, especially the lack of content, were seen to be problematic. Some players would have wanted more features or more Pokémon.
Sometimes players felt that the game was changing for the worse. For instance, the removal of the nearby feature, which had made locating Pokémon easier made some to stop playing.
Niantic was criticized for their lack of communication to the public, and even claims of not seeing them as trustworthy arose.
If friends no longer played the game, some respondents explained not feeling like continuing the game alone. Other people could have a negative influence, for instance by cheating.
Alha, K., Koskinen, E., Paavilainen, J. and Hamari, J., 2019. Why do people play location-based augmented reality games: A study on Pokémon GO. Computers in Human Behavior, 93, pp.114-122.
The USW Audience of the Future research team is compiling a summary collection of recent research in the field of immersive, and enhanced reality media