“Pokémon Go was such a flash in the pan,” says Associate Professor Mark Humphery-Jenner from the UNSW Business School. “It is in rapid decline. When launched in July when it had a peak of 27 million users a day. Pokémon Go is now down to 700,000, and falling more steadily. The question is why?”

He has analysed the game, and has come up with suggestions on what other game companies might do differently to retain users.

“Pokémon Go’s creators Niantic made several significant missteps,” he says. “They didn’t understand their consumers.”

“There were not enough new elements quickly enough to stop players getting bored, and existing ones were removed without notice. This is likely to alienate players, especially if done with little explanation.”

He says that game developers also have to learn to work with third parties. “Pokémon tracking was relatively rudimentary in the game itself, so third parties developed apps. Niantic, subsequently disabled these apps by cutting off their data access and sending them ‘cease and desist’ orders. This effectively removed a feature that many players regarded as essential.”

He says Niantic repeated this gaffe by disabling the game for players with “rooted” android devices, which gave players extra control over their tablets or phones.

Associate Professor Humphery-Jenner says the clear lesson is that a company should not remove features without first considering how essential they are to the user experience, and without offering an adequate replacement.

He adds that there was no way for people to interact in real time in the game. “We know now through social media that gamers love to talk to other gamers. If they can’t do that on your platform, they quickly go elsewhere.”

He emphasises that as with all new products, communicating with your customers is paramount, particularly when things go wrong. “Otherwise, you risk losing their confidence that you care about them and know how to fix the problem,” he says. “If you have to make unpopular decisions, at least communicate the reason for those decisions and present a plan to assuage consumers’ concerns.”

He has written about the issue in The Conversation

For further comment call Mark Humphery-Jenner on 02 9385 5853, 0412 965340 or Email MLHJ@unsw.edu.au

Media contact: Julian Lorkin: 02 9385 9887