Niantic Teases 'Sponsored' Pokemon Go Locations

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Businesses are already cashing in on the Pokemon Go craze. Why shouldn't the game maker also reap the benefits?

According to the Financial Times, Niantic plans to invite retailers and restaurants to "sponsor" (i.e. pay to advertise) locations on the app's virtual map.

Currently, the company earns revenue via in-app purchases of power-ups and virtual items, including the Lure Module, which attracts Pokemon to your position for 30 minutes. Popular among enterprising organizations that know even the most diligent hunters need nourishment and rest, one Lure Module costs 100 Pokecoins. In layman's terms, 99 cents buys you half an hour of guaranteed customer traffic.

But Niantic's idea to introduce paid deals that encourage players to visit a particular shop or bar could boost company earnings significantly.

Niantic's previous game, Ingress, features a network of brands mapped to on-street locations, the FT said, adding that CEO John Hanke hinted at similar advertising in Pokemon Go.

In addition to in-app purchases, "there is a second component to our business model at Niantic, which is this concept of sponsored locations," Hanke told the news site. Companies can "pay us to be locations within the virtual game board—the premise being that it is an inducement that drives foot traffic."

Advertisers would be charged on a "cost per visit" basis, like the "cost per click" system used by Google, out of which Niantic was spun last year.

Niantic did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

Pokemon Go took the world by storm last week when it launched in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. But The augmented reality video game is slowly making its way around the globe, recently launching in Germany, and now available in the UK. British players can now download the title in the UK version of the iTunes App Store or Google Play store.

The game's universal appeal has everyone from young students to politicians trying to catch 'em all. Two California state Senate candidates agreed to duke it out for the state seat with a Pokemon Go match.

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