Tech Talk: Businesses Can Ride Pokemon GO's Coattails

Pokemon GO has become so unbelievably huge that it's starting to eat off of other games' plates, both in and out of the mobile world. The game has brought communities together, resulted in wayward players driving into trees, driven people to quit their jobs, and even helped some patients with mental disorders. It's taken off in a huge way around the world, and so far, only McDonalds has seen fit to pivot off of the game to drive their own business, opting to make some McDonald's locations into sponsored PokeStops, offering players attractive perks. While McDonald's has their big name to use to drive traffic and draw attention to the fact that they're a PokeStop, there's a way for just about any business to take advantage of the game.

There are two types of landmarks in Pokemon GO, and a few distinct ways that business can choose to use them to interact with the community. PokeStops are places for players to gather supplies. Having one at or near your business will attract players, who may even stay a while to farm items; PokeStops allow access once every ten minutes or so. These players can be engaged with in a variety of ways to turn their presence into their business. People who frequent your business because it's a PokeStop are likely to keep coming back, and to be Pokemon fans through and through. Simply chatting them up may be a good way to get them to do business with you, or offering a discount or other initiative centered around the game. Pokestops can also have lures stuck on them, which attract wild Pokemon. Lures cost about $1.00 a pop individually, but can be bought in packs for a discount. A lure lasts 30 minutes, and attracts more Pokemon for all users around. As a perk of putting up a lure, if it's not actually at your business, you can use your business name as the name of your player avatar, which players will see when accessing the PokeStop. This communicates support for the Pokemon GO community.

The second type of landmark worth discussing is the Pokemon gym. Gyms are places where players take over for their team, then leave one of their own Pokemon to defend it. When a player goes to an opposing gym, they can choose up to six Pokemon to run through the gauntlet of defenders. Each gym has a prestige rating, produced by the players who leave their Pokemon there via sparring. Once the prestige hits zero, the attacking team takes the gym. Prestige drops with each Pokemon defeated. A business can take advantage of the competition likely to happen at gyms. Players from opposing teams often hang around gyms and wage war over them until somebody has to leave, or somebody runs out of Pokemon healing items. Smart moves may include holding competitions, requiring players to buy something in order to take on the gym if it's deep enough within your building, or offering discounts to players on the team currently holding the gym.

All of these engagement methods have their own ups and downs, and it's not entirely unreasonable to think that a large number of non-paying players may hurt business by crowding up the place. Some businesses have chosen to deal with this issue in creative ways, and there is a fine line to be navigated. While crowds of non-paying players may drive away paying customers, people do other things on their phones, and it's tough to monitor every person that walks in your business. Somebody could simply be browsing and happen to receive a text. Likewise, somebody with their phone in their pocket may have the game in low-power mode, waiting for the telltale sound or vibration that will tell them a Pokemon or PokeStop is within range. Some businesses ban the game outright, some ask that only paying customers play, and others engage the customer base and actively encourage playing on premises. There is a form you can use to request that Niantic erect a gym or PokeStop at a location, allowing you to possibly create your own opportunity. Ultimately, it's a matter of balance; monitor players and customers closely and figure out what would work best for your business. Playing your cards right can mean seeing a huge increase in business because of the game.

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About the Author
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Daniel Fuller

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for Android Headlines since 2015, and is one of the site's Senior Staff Writers. He's been living the Android life since 2010, and has been interested in technology of all sorts since childhood. His personal, educational and professional backgrounds in computer science, gaming, literature, and music leave him uniquely equipped to handle a wide range of news topics for the site. These include the likes of machine learning, voice assistants, AI technology development, and hot gaming news in the Android world. Contact him at [email protected]