So Pokémon Go seems to have taken the country by storm (at least for those 30 and younger). I really do wonder if this is the signal of a paradigm shift when it comes to augmented reality–is this just what we can expect from life now? There are so many people playing and so many people talking about it and so many people using the Internet for this one purpose, and it’s so different from anything that’s taken hold in popular culture like this. Compared with, say, Angry Birds, it’s having tangible effects on people moving around and going to different places. Rather than gameplay being “available” anywhere, it requires you to be in various places for gameplay.
There are tons of questions to ask about this game, but one of the big questions I have is how is this game affecting businesses that find themselves identified by the game. I know the Firehouse Subs downtown is a Pokéstop, so it makes me wonder what the impact of something like that would have on a commercial business. (Churches and historical markers are another story altogether, but I may cover them at some point.)
On the one hand, this being a free app, just having trainers hunting for ‘mons doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to buy anything. You can see people at odd hours, and you might not be equipped for such traffic. For a restaurant, it’s going to be very frustrating if people stay beyond normal times just so they can catch more Pokémon or hit the Pokéstop a few more times.
On the other hand, this is free advertising for any business that gets tagged by it. People are going to be thinking of your store more often and around the area, and surely some of that foot traffic will turn into sales. I’m sure marketers would kill for this kind of exposure. It also makes me wonder if Niantic couldn’t make money from having sponsored Pokéstops or Gyms from businesses.
Anecdotally, it seems to be helping. I found this article suggesting that business try this out and see how many people they can get. Lures are going to be especially good at…well, luring trainers, and I sort of wonder if the name isn’t more apt for talking about the players rather than just the Pokémon.
Pokémon Go may actually be transforming the world. What crazy times in which we live.