In a bit of news that should surprise no one, Pokémon GO developer Niantic has said that the game will feature sponsored locations, like the company’s other game Ingress. It’s an easy way for the company to make money while still keeping the game virtually free-to-play.
The first sponsor is rumored to be McDonald’s. Some enterprising players who have decompiled versions of the game have found some pretty convincing evidence that McDonald’s may be helping you catch ’em all. These players have also said the code looks like every McDonald’s location would be turned into a Gym. McDonald’s has more 36,000 locations across the world. That’s a lot of Gyms. That’s also a huge sponsorship deal.
Ingress, while having sponsorships from multiple companies, never had anything of this scale. If Pokémon GO is attracting McDonald’s as its first sponsor, it’s very likely we’ll be seeing some more big-name brands sign up to be part of the craze.
Pokémon GO has been both a blessing and curse for businesses. While some have embraced all of the new foot traffic, others are irritated at all of the people who enter their establishment without buying anything. McDonald’s is certainly used to lots of people in its establishments. So this deal, if it turns out to be true, makes a lot of sense. Most people who enter a McDonald’s looking for pokémon may very well discover that they’re hungry once they’re there.
Right now the only way Pokémon GO is making money is through microtransactions, which means using real money to purchase items and upgrades to help speed up the process of catching Pokemon. With the unprecedented popularity of the game, it probably won’t be long before we start to see official announcements of sponsors soon.