Pokémon GO — you might love it, you might hate it, but you’ve most certainly heard of it by now. Retailers had to get hip to the idea of sudden hordes of phone-toting pedestrians showing up at their store fronts when the red-hot mobile app launched this week, and it looks like the developer behind the game is ready to entertain some closer relationships, too.
In an interview with Financial Times, John Hanke — CEO of Niantic, the development studio behind Pokémon GO — hinted at his company’s plans to potentially allow retailers to sign onto partnerships within the game. Pokémon GO players have tended to congregate around what the game refers to as “PokéStops” and gyms — real-world locations that attract the digital creatures players try to catch or offer experience-boosting activities. When asked about the game’s monetization plan, Hanke responded that, alongside traditional in-app purchases of power-ups and extra Poké Balls, “there is a second component to our business model at Niantic, which is this concept of sponsored locations.”
In the short week that players have had their hands on Pokémon GO, it’s racked up more downloads than any other app on either the iOS App Store or Android’s Google Play marketplace. Active daily users have already surpassed that of Tinder and are approaching that of Twitter. Spontaneously popular apps have come and gone, though. What makes Pokémon GO such a potential windfall for retailers is the way it forces players to interact with the real world (and, supposing clever retail partnerships, buy something while they’re out there).