Since the release of Pokémon Go around 2 weeks ago, there has been a big impact on businesses big and small. Though some have seen a positive impact with more sales and an increased footfall, some have borne the brunt of reduced productivity and unauthorised staff absences.
The game, which is available on iOS and Android, uses augmented reality (AR) and your phone’s GPS, to create a fully immersive experience. Nintendo and Niantic, the creators of the game, have created the most popular app of all time, bigger than Tinder, Whatsapp and Twitter. Currently, millions of people around the world are roaming their cities looking to capture little Pokémon characters.
With the huge popularity of the game, which has seen it hitting headlines worldwide, some businesses have seen an opportunity. The map uses local landmarks to create Pokéstops and Gyms, places where people can and will congregate to collect and fight Pokémon respectively. You can head to a Pokéstop, drop a lure and for 30 minutes, the Pokémon will come to you for you to capture.
As businesses discover they are Pokéstops, they are downloading the app for themselves and paying to drop a lure to attract people to their premises. This is something that has been particularly beneficial for cafes, restaurants, bars and coffee shops who are seeing increased footfall and sales. For them, the more people in their premises, the bigger the opportunity for sales.
Small businesses, inside and outside the food and drink industry, are using Pokémon Go to draw attention to their business too. Their mission is to entice gamers into making a purchase or shouting about their business online while they capture their Pokémon.
However, there are downsides for the hospitality industry, as some restaurateurs and café owners have spoken out about recently. A few see the increased visitors as a hindrance to their day-to-day trading activities. There may be more people coming to their premises but some are there just for the Pokémon.
Many gamers are not interested in purchasing anything and instead are just taking up space that could go to paying customers. For restaurant owners, this is a real problem during busy lunch and dinner times while service is underway.
There is also a disadvantage to office workers and non-public facing sectors, who have reported incidents of people wandering through and around their premises looking for Pokémon. This is especially troublesome if these business premises are inadvertently a Pokéstop.
This behaviour of aimlessly wandering streets has seen a handful of gamers wandering into trouble. There has been reports of hospital admissions, gang crime and even people falling off cliffs, though these occurrences are in the minority.
Many companies have also seen a drop in productivity and an increase in unauthorised staff absences. Some workers have continued to play the game during work hours causing a handful of businesses to take drastic action. On the other hand, there are some workers who have decided not to turn up to work or call in sick to spend their day playing Pokémon Go.
Whatever your opinion of Pokémon Go, there are positives and negatives for users and businesses alike. Many have seen an opportunity in this craze and they are looking to jump on it to the benefit of their business.
As a result, it has been suggested the games creators will capitalise and cash in on business’ lure techniques. The creators could easily create an opt in, opt out system, where some businesses opt in to be Pokéstops and others opt out to regain privacy on their premises.