July 27, 2016 | by Liam

When Gaming Means Business

One of the many perks of working for Flintriver, is that our studio is very close to Loch Leven Heritage Trail – the perfect spot for a lunchtime walk. Mostly, the park is popular with dog walkers, cyclists and photographers – but recently, you can’t help but notice small groups of people wandering around with their heads buried in their smartphone playing Pokémon Go.

Intrigued, my curiosity got the better of me and I downloaded the game to see if this new craze was worth the hype and to better understand how businesses are able to turn this popular game into a marketing opportunity.

For those that don’t already know, the app uses an augmented reality map, which tracks your movements. As you explore your local area, Pokémon appear on your map – you then tap your smartphone screen to enter a battle scene. Within the battle scene, the app uses your camera to show the creature in your real time surroundings. A swipe of your finger allows you to throw Poke Balls in an attempt to capture them. The aim is to capture as many Pokémon as you can.

The map of your real life location doesn’t just show nearby Pokémon. A short walk throws up some interesting icons that appear to be Pokestops and Gyms.

‘Pokestop’ – a location where you can pick up supplies and find Pokémon.

‘Gym’ – a location where players can battle their Pokémon to become a master.

It’s easy to see why this game is so popular. Pokémon has been around for 20 years and Pokémon Go brings the phenomenon to a new, younger, audience as well as bringing back fond memories of older fans who grew up with the franchise, collecting cards, playing video games and watching the cartoon every Saturday morning.

So, how are businesses getting involved?

With tens of millions of downloads around the world, this app is beyond popular and there’s a very good chance that a lot of potential customers are wrapped up in this craze.

Some bars and cafes have taken the initiative to offer special deals on drinks and snacks to Pokémon Trainers. While some attractions are making themselves stand out more using virtual incense. In-app purchases lets you buy incense that lures Pokémon to your location for 30 minutes and in turn, attracts customers.

There is certainly potential to use Pokémon Go to increase footfall to your business – but converting footfall to sales really depends on the product you are selling. While Pokémon Trainers are likely to buy refreshments while on the hunt for Pikachu, it’s unlikely that they will commit to bigger purchases. And having hoards of people visiting your desk trying to find Articuno in your estate agents office is just going to be annoying.

If you are a business who is cashing in, the bad news is that the hype surrounding Pokémon Go is unlikely to last. However, it’s only a matter of time until other franchises use this technology. The key is to move fast and get in on the action before the attraction fades!

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