Businesses will now be able to directly cash in on Pokémon Go's popularity as the developers behind the new mobile augmented reality game make plans to allow "sponsorship" of the real-world locations where the game is played by users.
The sponsored locations will add a revenue stream for the game's developers at Niantic, which is a spin-off of Google. Nintendo owns a third of Pokémon Co., and both own pieces of Niantic.
Since launching on July 6, the location-based Pokémon Go game is taking off with millions of users in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, with more countries being added regularly, including Great Britain and Germany. Players search for the characters on maps showing locations near them and have to catch the creatures to score points.
By allowing businesses to sponsor the locations where the characters can be caught, businesses could see upticks of customers just by being a featured site for the game, according to a July 13 story in The Financial Times.
John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic, told the Times that creating the location sponsorships will allow the company to provide a new revenue stream to bolster the existing in-app purchases of power-ups and virtual items by players. The game is played on smartphones that use GPS and other functions to lead players to real-world locations where they can find the game's characters.
Under the business sponsorships, companies will "pay us to be locations within the virtual game board—the premise being that it is an inducement that drives foot traffic," he told the paper. Advertisers will be charged a fee for each visit by a player, he said.
Some businesses are already seeing increased sales by being selected as locations by the game, according to a July 12 story from The New York Post. One restaurant, L'inizio Pizza Bar in Long Island City in New York, saw its sales increase by about 75 percent over the weekend after using a lure mode in the game to attract the game's players into the restaurant, the story reported. The manager of the restaurant spent $10 to have a dozen Pokemon characters placed in the store, the story said.
In other locations, including in the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and at Arlington National Cemetery, visitors are already being asked not to play Pokémon Go while they are visiting to retain the sanctity of the properties, according to a July 13 eWEEK story.
Other problems have also been reported in various locations, including several armed robberies of Pokémon Go players by criminals who used the game's features to attract users, who were relieved of their cell phones and other valuables.
Enterprises are also being warned to monitor and take possible action regarding the game to prevent employees from playing it on company devices due to security concerns, the story reported. Some experts worry that the game may become a gateway into a company's data stores and that it could introduce malware that spreads within business networks.
T-Mobile Jumps on the Pokémon Go Bandwagon
Mobile phone carrier T-Mobile is even getting in on the Pokémon Go phenomenon by announcing the availability of free unlimited mobile data for its customers who want to play Pokémon Go under its T-Mobile Tuesday promotions this summer. The free Pokémon game data will be in effect through August 2017 for customers who sign up for the limited-time offer on T-Mobile Tuesdays through Aug. 9 using the promotion's special app. Customers can begin signing up for the promotion on July 19.
Other related offers are also available, including free Lyft rides up to $15 to get to a new PokéStop or Gym used in the game, free Wendy's Frosty desserts and 250 prizes of $100 in PokéCoins for use in the game. Five prize winners will also receive a Pokémon Go hunting trip anywhere in the U.S. for themselves and a guest, according to T-Mobile.