launch, before an official sponsorship option was even on the table, bars and restaurants tapped into the game’s ‘Lure Module’ feature, which attracts more Pokémon to a given spot, to boost footfall – a sort of DIY version of the official sponsored location offering.
What’s next for Pokémon Go?
According to Sensor Tower, the average player opens the app six times and plays for over 26 minutes every day
How does the app make money? Primarily, Pokémon Go is monetised like almost any mobile game in 2016 – through in-app purchases. The app includes a store, where players can trade real money for ‘Pokécoins’, a virtual currency that can be spent on in-game items like Pokéballs, Lure Modules that attract more Pokémon to a specific spot, and extra storage for creatures and items.
Niantic is also making money through sponsored locations. Companies can pay to have their bricks-and-mortar venues turned into in-game gyms, where players can battle to take control of the site and mark it with their team colours – until a rival takes it back. While it’s possible to stroll past one of the game’s Pokéstops, these gyms encourage players to stick around, making them the perfect fit for a restaurant hoping to draw in customers.
First of all, Niantic needs to make sure it can get the app working properly. As already mentioned, Go still has some way to go before it’s anywhere near stable, and that has provoked something of a backlash from players, leading to the game receiving an average rating of just 2.8 on the App Store. From there, the app can start to fill out more of its features. Speaking at San Diego Comic-Con, Niantic CEO John Hanke admitted the release contains “probably a tenth of the ideas we had when we kicked this project off two years ago”. Forthcoming updates look set to increase the functionality of the Pokéstop locations, and eventually expand the range of creatures players can catch – the current 151 are just a fraction of
So how do I get sponsored? Right now, you can’t, unless you happen to be McDonald’s. A sponsorship deal saw 3,000 of the fast-food restaurants in Japan turned into gyms when the game launched there. Niantic says it is currently in talks with several companies over similar partnerships, but they’re likely to be at the same scale as the McDonald’s tie-up. For smaller brands, sponsored locations may simply never become an option. Comment
Many small businesses have capitalised on the marketing opportunities presented by Pokémon Go
Any other chances to get rich quick off the back of Go? People have certainly tried. A number of mapping services – many of them adsupported – sprung up around the app, pulling data from its API to display where particular Pokémon could be found in realtime. These were quickly closed down by Niantic, though, citing the strain they placed on the game’s already-overwhelmed servers. On the marketing side, however, there have been plenty of success stories from quick-thinking smaller businesses. At
the 800-plus Pokémon available in the most recent Nintendo games. Finally, there’s the Pokémon Go Plus – a wearable accessory for the game, which connects to the app via Bluetooth, alerting players when something is nearby and letting them catch Pokémon and hoover up items without having to fish a phone out of their pocket. Pushed back from an initial June launch, the Plus should be available by the time you’re reading this, at a price of £35 or $35. Happy hunting! MM
The September 2016 print edition of Mobile Marketing