20 Jul 2016

Pokemon Go: AR Here We Come!

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Pokemon Go

Arguably the most successful Augmented Reality experience so far has hit the App Store, and you’ve probably been unable to escape the Pokémon GO craze ever since. Don’t hide your screen, because we’ve got it too and a few Rincksters are pretty obsessed (doesn’t hurt that there’s a PokéStop on the first floor of our Auburn, ME headquarters). Beyond crowding around Heather Cyr’s office to get more PokéBalls, we can’t help but think about the potential social and economic impact the game may have in the future. We consulted resident trend expert Taylor Belanger, and Nate Perkins, Rinck’s head gamer, for their opinions on the Pokemon GO craze.

Say you’re a business owner, and last week you noticed people milling around your business while on their phones. One of your employees mentions that they’re so lucky their workplace is now a PokéStop. You decided to download the app, and found a PokéStop right outside your front door. That same employee suggests buying some lures and placing them on the stop (Lures are an item in the game that can be set on a PokéStop and attract Pokémon, therefore also attracting any nearby players). Have you just hit the jackpot in free advertising? Set a lure and basically summon people to your business, where you can offer them targeted deals and coupons? Already, there are a few local, private establishments that seem to be using this technique throughout the work day.

Or alternately, say you’re a player on Pokémon GO and you see your local fast food chain turned into a “PokéStop”. What was just a trip for a double cheeseburger is now a 30 minute trip to collect Pokémon and PokéBalls too. You may just be more inclined to stay longer, order more food, or maybe try a new menu item.

All we’re saying is it’s happening. Shortly after launch of Pokémon GO, some tech savvy sleuths decompiled the source code of the app and found the keyword "MCDONALDS", which pointed to a possible partnership with the fast food chain. Sure enough, a few days later, Japan confirmed that they will be opening PokéStops at the fast food locations. Perhaps this partnership will allow players to be rewarded with rare Pokémon or an experience bonus. It will be interesting to see how businesses utilize this frontier of advertising. The possibility to pair your footsteps in real time to a world augmented on your screen. To be studied while you’re not in a focus group. To be served an ad for a brand or experience, while literally next door to the place in the advertisement, and while staying hooked to a game, website or show. And Pokémon GO is still only in beta. Imagine the applications after it’s full release?