Pokémon GO takes to Hindi in Indian outing | Mint
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Business News/ Companies / News/  Pokémon GO takes to Hindi in Indian outing

Pokémon GO takes to Hindi in Indian outing

The Pokémon Co. and its American partner, software developer Niantic Inc., have allocated ₹125 crore over five years for activities like advertising and marketing

Niantic plans to add more Indian languages to the game gradually.Premium
Niantic plans to add more Indian languages to the game gradually.

NEW DELHI : The Pokémon Co. and its American partner, software developer Niantic Inc., have launched the popular mobile game Pokémon GO in Hindi. As part of the expansion plans, The Pokémon Company has earmarked 125 crore over five years for activities like advertising and marketing. Niantic plans to add more Indian languages to the game gradually.

The companies are seeking to engage Indian audiences, considering Hindi’s status as the sixth largest language in Asia. This is the 10th country, where they have localized content, with some Pokémon characters now sporting Hindi names to enhance their appeal.

During his visit to Delhi, the Pokémon Co.’s director and chief operating officer Takato Utsunomiya told Mint that the firm will invest 25 crore every year for five years and see how the Indian market responds.

The move follows the rising popularity of the gaming platform on YouTube in recent years. It continues to thrive in other markets like the US and Japan. Utsunomiya said within Asia, China is a crucial market.

India, in contrast, is a relatively new market for the business, and it is still in the process of establishing itself.

“We are willing to invest because India has a strong gaming culture. While a lot of the games popular in India right now are battle-style games, we hope the adoption of Pokémon Go will increase in a similar way it had in Japan, where we had battle royale games, too. Our games keep people on the move, and promote a healthier lifestyle. So, we are a very different category from those games."

Omar Tellez, vice president of emerging markets, Niantic, said India represents a massive opportunity. “We didn’t want to rush into the market and wanted to make official inroads only when we were fully prepared. India represents a massive opportunity for us—with over 500 million smartphones in the country. While we don’t expect our active user base in India to ramp up exponentially with its introduction in Hindi, it should increase approachability among the smartphone users," he added.

While Tellez did not reveal the number of Pokémon Go’s active users in India, he cited data from Data.ai to state that the game still had over 65 million monthly active users globally. As part of its strategy to popularise Pokémon Go in India it will be “rationalizing the pricing of in-app purchase bundles, to be more in line with the economics of the India market".

“We’ve also launched a web store for our items, through which users can choose to purchase using a wider range of payment options that are typically used by users here. We’ve also introduced brand-collaborated stops and gyms—as well as over 5 million points of interest across India, to further engage tourists and gamers alike," he added.

Speaking about the overall monetization strategy, Tellez said, “We at Niantic made a conscious decision to not drive ads that disrupt the overall gaming experience. We did discuss a wide range of banner ads and other formats, and somewhat experiment with them too—but eventually chose to proceed slowly."

Niantic is also working on a wider gamut of extended reality (XR) and metaverse technologies, which could bring more interactivity within the game. “We do have a number of experiments that we’re working on to make the game more interactive between players—a larger level of mixed reality elements is possible, but all of this will take some time. Perhaps another five years would be a good estimate for this," he said.

The game first launched nearly three decades ago in 1996 but soon after became a large sized Japanese media franchise when it went to the rest of the world between 1998-2000 and stayed popular till about 2002. It now not just has video games but also an animated series and films as well as trading card games. The premise of the popular franchise in a ‘universe’ in which humans and creatures known as Pokémon coexist. The business first had 151 creatures to begin with and has now permeated into over 1,000 creatures in its universe.

For Pokémon Go, wasn’t until 2016 when the business, along with Niantic, came up with its augmented reality game Pokémon GO. Today, globally, Pokémon the brand is co-owned by three companies including Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures.

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Varuni Khosla
Varuni Khosla is a journalist with close to 14 years of experience in writing business news stories for mainstream newspaper companies like Mint and The Economic Times. She reports and writes on luxury and lifestyle brands, hospitality and tourism news, the business of sports, the business of advertising and marketing and alcohol brands.
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Published: 15 Sep 2023, 11:28 PM IST
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