Pokemon is fast becoming a bit of a phenomenon. In it’s first week, it racked up twice the number of installs of Tinder, double the engagement levels of Snapchat and has more daily active users than Twitter.
So what is Pokemon Go and why might it be of interest for local businesses?
Pokemon Go’s origins are with a game called “Ingress” I started experimenting with back in 2012. It was then an experiment created by Google to explore the possibilities of augmented reality and gaming. Since then it was spun out of Google and is now owned by a company called Niantic. Niantic are the brains behind Pokemon Go.
An augmented reality game is one where players explore the real world looking for virtual objects that have significance in the game. By using a smartphone’s GPS and camera these “vobjects” can “appear” in the real world though something similar to a head up display.
Put together a tech savvy crowd, a slick brand and a carefully designed game leveraging intermittent variable reward and you have the digital equivalent of crack cocaine. Hordes of Red Bull fueled youths are, right now, running round the streets looking for their next reward.
You can probably start to see how this might be of interest to a local business in a major town or city that has a critical mass of Pokemon Go players. This is how to get in on the game…
Find out if your business is, or is close to a “Gym” or “PokeStop”. These two features in the game attract players like moths to a flame. Although there is no official map for the Pokemon game yet, the Ingress map bears an uncanny similarity to the Pokemon Go world. You can check out that map here (you can sign in with a Google account) and see if you are near any potential hot spots.
Create some Lures and attract the players. Pokemon Go has a lot of in app purchases, one of which is a lure. These increase the rate of Pokemon generation, and with the little fellas being quite rare, this is a big deal. Luring is a surprisingly good way to bring people to an area, as evidenced by these comments from Reddit:
“As a manager for a store PoGo is fucking amazing. SO. MUCH. FOOT TRAFFIC. Time to invest in some lures.” – Lord_Cthulhu
“My local library has 5 pokestops inside it, and the librarians keep all of them lured up during the hours that it’s open. I haven’t seen this many people in the library since middle school.” – sleepyplayer
Buying Lures is not expensive. It will work out at around $1.19 per hour to bring players flocking to your location. It would seem like a no brainer.
Leverage being close to a Gym. Pokemon Go Gyms are a special feature that players can “take control” of for their team (one of three Mystic, Valor or Instinct) and as such they attract a lot of foot fall. Put out a sign that you offer a discount to any member of the current “controlling” team.
Go to the crowd. Once you have checked the map understand the basics of game play you can soon find places that players will congregate. If you have a mobile business, go there!
Promote your Pokemon. Even if you are not near a Gym or PokeStop, you’ll have Pokemon. Get on social media and share the Pokemon nearby, especially if they are rare or valuable. You could incentivise players to do this for you, by offering to pay for their Incense (another in app purchase which attracts Pokemon) in exchange for them sharing tagged screenshots of any rare Pokemon that pop up.
I appreciate that this all might seem a bit crazy, and in some ways it is. Maybe it is just a craze. For all the positive stories of Pokemon Go bringing more visitors to businesses, libraries and churches there are a similar number of negative stories of players putting themselves at risk by going into dangerous locations or situations.
However, if you are a local business looking for more visitors you can’t ignore the way this is capturing people’s attention and imagination right now.