'Pokémon Go' a Year-In: How Scarcity and Needs for Uniqueness Lead Consumers to Complete Collections

21 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2014 Last revised: 15 Jul 2017

See all articles by John Donahue

John Donahue

Columbus College of Art & Design

Date Written: July 9, 2017

Abstract

A revolutionary cellphone game called “Pokémon Go” encouraged players to move about in the real world in an attempt to collect as many virtual images of characters as they could from a cartoon series. Why do individuals seek out hard-to-complete collections? A review of research on scarcity, and research on the need for uniqueness (the motivation to distinguish oneself from others), are both analyzed to illustrate why people acquire rare objects and seek out distinctive experiences. Before the “Pokémon Go” cellphone game the Pokémon collectible card game led to incidents of thefts, assaults, and obsessive behaviors. With the “Pokémon Go” cellphone game players have put themselves in harm’s way by not paying attention to traffic when crossing the street, by trespassing onto other people’s property without their consent, and by entering unsafe neighborhoods. Such dramatic incidents stemming from these two games demonstrate how strong the urge to complete a collection can become, and why it is important to examine these motivations.

Keywords: collecting, commodity theory, scarcity, uniqueness

Suggested Citation

Donahue, John, 'Pokémon Go' a Year-In: How Scarcity and Needs for Uniqueness Lead Consumers to Complete Collections (July 9, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2525959 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2525959

John Donahue (Contact Author)

Columbus College of Art & Design

60 Cleveland Avenue
Columbus, OH 43215
United States
6142249101 (Phone)
6142224040 (Fax)

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