Big Money in Pokemon Go
Industry tracker Sensor Tower estimates that Pokemon Go has already generated more than $200 million since its release in early July. Pokemon Go is free to download, but players can pay for extra add-ons that make them better hunters.
Commercial partnerships with other brands could offer another hugely lucrative source of income for its owners — but the Pokemon Company, which licenses the franchise, is currently concentrating on the game’s rollout.
McDonald’s is so far the only brand with a sponsorship deal, in Japan — hoping that having its restaurants designated as “PokeStops” and “Gyms”, where players can fight and pick up virtual supplies, will bring in customers in a country where it is badly struggling.
But the game’s developer Niantic has invited companies to express an interest in tie-ups on its website, signalling that similar deals could follow.
“The partnerships will be agreed in a second phase, but it will be selective,” a Pokemon Company representative told AFP.
In Japan, the game is seen as a potential boost for tourism — especially in the northeast, desperate for visitors after the massive 2011 earthquake, and in Kumamoto in the south, also hit by a series of deadly quakes in April.
Japanese authorities have signed a deal with Niantic to place Pokestops and Gyms in a way that guides tourists to neglected sites — steering clear of the exclusion zone around the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant.
In Japan and beyond, cafes may well profit from players looking for somewhere to hang out and hunt — but retailers may find that footfall from customers glued to their phones has limited benefits, say analysts.
There is also the burning question of whether Pokemon Go is here to stay — or whether it’s a fad we will soon forget about.
“Betting on a duration of three to six months, until Christmas, could allow companies to organise themed operations around the game,” said Yves Marin of the Wavestone consultancy — hopefully winning new customers whose loyalty could outlast the craze.