Pokémon GO has seemingly taken over the world. Your kids are playing it, your coworkers are probably playing it, even fathers-to-be are playing it in the delivery room! Pokémania hasn't been so strong since the original games were released in 1996. Unlike the traditional Pokémon games, however, Pokémon GO brings players into the real world – and into real businesses.
Less than a week after its release, Pokémon GO had surpassed Tinder's growth and was dominating Twitter trending topics.
In case you're not up to speed, Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game from Alphabet-owned company Niantic, who are also responsible for Ingress, Pokémon GO's AR predecessor from 2011. Using GPS data collected from Google Maps and Ingress, Pokemon GO puts the fantasy creatures into the "real world" by displaying them on player's phone screens, prompting players to explore the area around their community in order to "Catch 'em all." Depending on your geographic location, different Pokémon will show up (For example, water types will show up at the beach, grass types at the park, etc.,) meaning that players are seeking out areas rich with types they don't already have.
The game is trending on most social media, and basically all anyone can talk about right now. It's even changing the way people go about their days.
Pokémon GO is Literally Changing People's Commutes
The main goal of the game is to find, and catch, all of the Pokémon to complete your Pokédex (an encyclopedia of the monsters). In order to do this, players have to visit many different places as well as track Pokémon down. Simply being in an area dense with Pokémon doesn't guarantee you will find that Squirtle you're looking for. Instead, players have to use the in-game tracking system to hunt out the creatures and capture them.
This means what is normally a 15 minute walk without the app could potentially double or triple in length, depending on how far players are willing to go to chase Pokémon. It can also change a player's normal commute. If there is an alternate route to work featuring a lot of Pokéstops (more on those later,) or a rare Pokémon, then a player may be more tempted to travel that direction – potentially putting them right in the path of your business.
Pokéstops and Gyms Can Bring in Business
Pokéstops are special landmarks – they can be art installations, historical monuments, churches, popular businesses, etc. – that players visit to get more Pokéballs, which are crucial in the quest to become a Pokémon master. Niantic has already chosen where Pokéstops are, unfortunately, so if your business is not listed as one there's no way to change that yet. If your business or office is a Pokéstop and it's causing problems, you can appeal its status directly with Niantic.
Certain locations are also Pokémon gyms – places where trainers can battle their newly-caught Pokémon. The three teams (Valor, Mystic, and Instinct,) battle for control of gyms and a single gym can change hands several times in one day. Many businesses are cashing in on this competition by offering small discounts to the team currently holding the gym or by offering special Pokémon-themed products.
It's worth checking to see if your business is a Pokéstop or a gym, especially if your company generates business via foot traffic, because there are ways to draw people in to a specific location by using the game.
Lure in Customers With Modules
In the Pokémon GO shop players can purchase an item called a "lure module." These items increase the amount of Pokémon at a Pokéstop for 30 minutes. The effect spreads to all players, not just the player who placed it, so it can draw in large crowds to a specific landmark.
Using these modules, businesses can literally lure customers to their location. While the in-game lures cost real-life money, they can reap real-life benefits as they encourage players to linger in a space and that gives you the opportunity to inform them about your company or make sales. Many restaurants and retail stores have seen up to a 10 percent increase in traffic and sales by using lures to draw in more foot traffic.
While there may be concerns about loitering, the lures expire after 30 minutes so it would be a minor inconvenience at worst and at best, you made a few sales with a very small investment (a single lure costs around $1.)
Team Building Opportunities
When a player reaches level five in the game the are given the choice of three teams to join; Instinct (yellow), Mystic (blue), or Valor (red). Once a member of a team, the player competes against their opposing teams to control as many gyms as possible in their region.
The team-building opportunities for your staff are there – if everyone is willing to join the same team. If there is a gym in or near your office, different departments could even choose different teams and join in on some friendly inter-office competition. Put up a score board to track team control of gym(s) and encourage staff to get outside during breaks or after work to gain prestige for their team.
However, it is important to stress that taking control of the gym is not as important as real work.
With all of the benefits Pokémon GO can potentially bring to your business as well as your team, there are some cons that could negatively impact day-to-day productivity.
If employees are too distracted with catching them all, they may not catch errors in work and quality may see a decrease. Of course, everyone is an adult, so the hope is there is an even balance of work and play that everyone can be happy with.
Additionally, if your business isn't one that requires or accepts walk-in traffic, Pokémon GO could potentially be a nuisance. Niantic may remove your office as a Pokéstop if you ask them, but if not, you may have to wait until Poké-fever ends for things to get back to normal. There hasn't been much word yet on how Niantic is dealing with unwanted Pokéstops, but typically they are only located in highly populated areas and can be accessed from outside or even across the street, so you shouldn't need to worry about trainers coming into your lobby uninvited!
Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm in the short time that it's been out, and its possibilities to help business are bound to expand as the game looks for advertising revenue and expansion opportunities.
Last summer was, truly, the summer of Pokémon Go. But just because the weather has cooled down doesn't mean that Niantic threw in the towel on their most popular app. Over the winter, they ironed out many of the bugs that plauged players right after release. Including fixing constant server issues that barred some people from playing. In addition to bug fixes to create a smoother playing experiece, some new additions include:
- 80 new Pokémon from the Johto region of the Gold and Silver Pokémon games
- A new tracking system that bases a Pokémon's location on whatever PokéStop it is closest to for trainers searching for it
- New items such as berries and Pokéballs
- Sponsored PokéStops
What does this mean for my business?
Well, for the most part, it just means that as the weather begins to get warmer, you will probably be seeing people out and about playing the game again. With new player-to-player interactions and an increasing number of Pokémon arriving in the spring and summer of this year, there will be increased foot traffic to PokéStops and gyms. The biggest news for businesses, though, are sponsored PokéStops. If your business is not already a gym or stop, you can request Niantic consider it as one. Currently, the only sponsored PokéStops are select Starbucks and McDonald's locations. These locations offer drink specials for the real-world that players can enjoy while hanging out at the PokéStop. In the future, Niantic will continue to expand on this idea of sponsored PokéStops and gyms - after all, someone has to foot the bill for all that server space!
We will keep you updated on changes to Pokémon Go in this post.