By Al Roberts
Nintendo’s Pokémon Go, a free augmented reality (AR) mobile game, is on fire.
According to Similar Web, the Android version of the app was installed on more than 5% of all Android devices in the US within two days, giving it an install base larger than Tinder, the popular dating app.
And with more than 60% of US users who have downloaded the app using it daily, SimilarWeb estimates Pokémon GO’s daily active users count will surpass Twitter‘s.
What’s more: Pokémon GO players are highly engaged, spending far more time in the app than they do with some of the most popular social apps, including WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat.
Pokémon GO, which calls on players to hunt for the virtual creatures in the real world through an AR experience, has caused Nintendo’s stock to rise nearly 25% since its release even though it could be a while before Nintendo’s profits from the game move the needle.
But while Nintendo might not not profit significantly from the Pokémon GO craze for some time, savvy local businesses are already looking to capitalize. As Jason Evangelho, TweakTown’s VR editor, has detailed, Pokémon GO draws players to Pokémon Gyms and PokéStops, real-world locations that can include local businesses.
While local businesses can’t currently elect to become Pokémon Gyms and PokéStops, some lucky enough to have found themselves on the map in the game are embracing players, a move that could allow them to convert Pokémon GO players to paying customers.
For example, when iconoCLAD, a clothing store in Salt Lake City, Utah, learned that it was home to a PokéStop, it put out a sign welcoming players and encouraging them to consider picking up some clothes in addition to their virtual pokéballs.
This caught the attention of locals, and Fox 13, a local television news station that featured the store in a news report on the Pokémon GO phenomenon.
iconoCLAD isn’t alone in embracing Pokémon GO. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas is home to multiple Pokéstops, and while Pokémon might seem like an odd fit for an art museum, Crystal Bridges didn’t hesitate to use its Pokémon GO prolificacy to promote itself.
“As general admission to Crystal Bridges is free, it will cost you nothing to visit the Museum and rack up your Pokemon captures, and you can enjoy some terrific American art as you go,” Linda Deberry, the museum’s senior copy editor and publications manager wrote on the Crystal Bridges blog.
“We only ask that you be careful and be aware of your surroundings as you do battle so you don’t inadvertently back into an artwork or trip up a fellow museumgoer.”
Local businesses that are home to PokéStop can more aggressively court players thanks to an in-app purchasable Lure Module which “attracts Pokémon to a PokéStop for 30 minutes.” Combined with Pokémon GO-specific messaging and promotions, that could prove to be a valuable tool for increasing Pokémon GO foot traffic and turning it into revenue.
For local businesses that aren’t PokéStops, capitalizing on the game could be more difficult, but Pokémon GO’s commercial opportunities almost certainly won’t be lost on Nintendo and in the future, it’s possible that the company will seek to build offerings around Pokémon GO that allow local businesses to pay to become Gyms and PokéStops.
And if Pokémon GO proves to be more than a short-lived fad, it could be just the start of a wave of AR games that local businesses can tap to capture new customers and bring existing customers back through their doors.
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