The summer’s hottest craze may well materialize into some crazy retail activity.
Pokémon GO is the just-released augmented reality mobile game that has taken the gaming world by storm, topping the “most downloaded apps” charts for both Android and Apple faster than any game in history.
This smartphone craze has users engaging the app’s geo-location features and sprinting across their cities in pursuit of virtual monsters lurking in real-world locations.
And here’s the thing: many of those real-world locations are in the vicinity of brick-and-mortar stores. That spells big potential for retail, from upping foot traffic to exploiting marketing opportunities.
While some shopkeepers are shooing the gamers away (Sephora, reportedly), others are welcoming their giddy presence, even posting tips for catching the monsters on their premises, as Australian supermarket group Woolworths has done on its Facebook page.
One T-Mobile shop got in on the act thus:
Ha! Local mall T-Mobile trying to get you to upgrade your phone for Pokemon
3:23 PM – 10 Jul 2016
Another breathless player posted that she was at Forever 21. While her friend tried on clothes, she was catching Pokémon. “What a time to be alive,” she enthused.
Game developer Niantic Labs has said retailers have already approached them about the ability to pay to become a featured stop in the adventure.
And in a 2014 interview, Niantic product manager Brandon Badger foreshadowed a future for the then-unreleased game, saying his company hoped to let retailers have a say in how locations were chosen.
As it is, retailers can purchase a “Lure Module” through the app that brings monsters—and, presumably, gamers on their trail—to PokéStops for 30 minutes.
The game is currently only available to users in the US and Australia, but Canadian players have shared the means to get around these limitations and are enjoying the long-awaited line-blurring between real and virtual realities with the rest of the world.