What do you do when you have a viral game that encourages players to walk around streets and parks? Sell ads, of course.
The developer of Pokemon Go said it will soon accept sponsored partnerships to make certain locations appear more prominently in the mobile game that has taken the country by storm.
The move to make even more money off this juggernaut makes sense given just how popular the game has become. Since its July 6 launch, it has become the biggest mobile game in history. It now has more daily users than Twitter, and people are spending more time on it than on Facebook. And the Wall Street Journal reported that advertising companies have been reaching out to Niantic to figure out how to get their clients in on the game.
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Until the official partnerships start, some businesses that are already PokeStops – places in the game where players can find Pokemon and in-game items – have taken it upon themselves to do a little unofficial promotion. Players in the game can buy an item called a “lure,” which increases the number of cartoon monsters that appear in the game – critters that players have to physically track down to level up in the app. Lures last 30 minutes. For about $10, you can buy enough lures to keep people coming to your store for four hours.
A pizzeria in Brooklyn used this tactic to draw in more customers and saw business jump by 75 percent, according to the New York Post. Washington’s Politics and Prose bookshop put down lures to draw players Tuesday evening, said Jon Purves, the store’s director of marketing and publicity. The store itself is a gym – a place in the game where players can battle for dominance – and a mural on the store’s wall is also a dedicated PokeStop.
“It certainly did bring people by,” Purves said. “All throughout the evening we were seeing lots of kids coming along, and lots of adults as well hang out on the mural.” He said that, overall, the store spent about $5 to draw people in for the evening and that the store was happy with the return on its investment. Other nearby businesses, such as Comet Ping Pong, also benefited from the lure.
“We might be talking to them about shared lure opportunities” in the future, Purves said.
Catherine Kruta found out that her family’s bakery in Collinsville, Ill., was a PokeStop when she downloaded the game and started playing for herself.
Kruta Bakery started making Pok Ball cookies to cater to the extra customers coming to the shop. The bakery made four dozen on the first day and sold them all within three hours – very unusual, Kruta said, for decorated cookies. The next day, they made 10 dozen and sold out again. On Thursday, Kruta was just finishing up a batch of 30 dozen.
Not everyone is happy with the increased activity the game has caused. But the prospect of drawing even a part of the droves of players currently roaming the streets looking for the cartoon creatures has obvious appeal for businesses.
Niantic, the developer behind Pokemon Go, has tried this trick before with its other major gaming hit, Ingress. In the past Jamba Juice and Zipcar have both paid the developer to make their locations key spots in that game’s augmented reality map. Niantic did not respond to a request for comment.
Catch ’em all with The Observer
Will you be playing Pokemon Go in Uptown Friday, July 15? If so, come check out the PokeStop from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the NASCAR Fountain at the corner of Stonewall and Caldwell. The Charlotte Observer will have free giveaways – and of course, the wild Pokemon will be around for you to catch!