The augmented-reality mobile game craze Pokemon Go, which sends people out and about to “collect” monsters via their phones in real locations, has many players ending up in shops and malls, Racked reports.
Some retailers are sending people away from their stores if they’re just there to play the game, but others are welcoming the Pokemon Go-induced foot traffic, in some cases advertising on Facebook that the monsters have taken up residence in their businesses, according to Financial Times.
The game, the most-downloaded in the Apple App Store since its release last week, is only available in the U.S. and Australia for the moment, although U.K. users have been able to download U.S. versions.
It’s hard to know whether the Pokemon Go craze is a momentary fad or the beginning of a longer-term trend toward augmented reality games, but users apparently do appreciate the colliding of real and virtual realities.
While beauty retailer Sephora is reportedly not very welcoming to the game players that enter some of their stores, other retailers are embracing the phenomenon. Forbes game reviewer Jason Evangelho writes that welcoming players could garner stores all manner of benefits—from foot traffic to marketing opportunities. And while it’s true PokeStops (locations where players go to stock up on pokeballs and find Pokemon) themselves are predetermined by game developer Niantic Labs, retailers have already been asking about the ability to pay to become one, he said.
Currently, retailers can purchase a “Lure Module” through the app that brings monsters to a PokeStop for 30 minutes—and presumably customers after those monsters. Some restaurants are advertising that their locations are PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms, where users go to battle their collected monsters.
Had an interesting chat at a bar/restaurant sitting between two Pokestops how their business increased by 10% since Pokemon GO came out.— Sarah Anne Williams (@SarahAnneWillia) July 11, 2016
The app offers malls and retailers, many of which are struggling due to competition from e-commerce and falling foot traffic, a glimpse at how technology could help them attract customers. Many malls are already looking at technology beyond gaming, including mapping tools to help customers find parking, tracking tools to determine traffic levels and patterns, beacons that push out notices of sales or coupons, and sensors that enable optimal lighting in parking lots while also saving energy. As malls continue to mix up their offerings, providing a better selection of tenants and events, adding augmented reality games for customers could also draw in the crowds.
“Trust me when I say this game is exploding, and it stands to have a daily impact on your business,” Evangelho says. “The best approach you can take is to make that impact positive by embracing the game and making the Pokemon Go experience a memorable one for both you and your potential customers.”