Swipe and… PokémonGo?

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Swipe and… PokémonGo?

Love it or hate it Pokémon Go has exploded. Within in a week of its initial release in the US the mobile game was estimated to have been downloaded 15million times, a figure that then doubled by the following week. Now with only a few countries remaining before Niantic (the company behind the game) achieve their goal of a complete global release, it seems as if soon everyone in the world will be clambering over hills and through hedges to find these ‘pocket monsters’.

So what is it?

For those of you who have yet to download the game, or simply have yet to hear of this phenomenon, Pokémon Go is a mobile app/game in which users walk around the real world looking for Pokémon and eventually try to catch them. The game itself is rather simple, it uses GPS to display the users real world location on a generated map which the user then navigates in order hunt for Pokémon. Users are then alerted as to when a Pokémon is nearby and they use their camera to find and catch the critter by playing a brief ‘mini-game’.

The game is fairly straightforward and has a very simple user interface, but what is incredibly interesting is how the game has also created ‘Gyms’ and ‘Pokéstops’. These are essentially map markers that direct users to real world points of interest: monuments, war memorials, churches and listed buildings to name a few. Users then stop at these locations and either collect items from the ‘Pokéstop’ or battle Pokémon at the ‘Gyms’. These ‘Pokéstops’ and ‘Gyms’ are ripe for commercial opportunity, as they have become hubs of user activity and have encouraged users to explore their local area. If your pub or restaurant was previously considered ‘off the beaten track’, find it now near a Pokéstop and you’ll suddenly have swathes of people hunting for items and digital creatures in your beer garden. At the moment, however, finding your establishment to be near one of these virtual locations is luck of the draw, but what’s to stop businesses applying to be sponsored locations?

McDonald’s has already jumped on this opportunity and made 3000 restaurants in Japan sponsored Pokémon Go ‘Gyms’.  So surely it is only a matter of time before Niantic realise the games commercial potential and make more and more of these ‘Pokéstops’ and ‘Gyms’ sponsored locations? Soon, perhaps, the in-game items received from ‘Pokéstops’ could include real world rewards such as a QR code for a free drink at McDonald’s, or a successful ‘Gym’ battle rewarding the user with a QR code for free meal. QR codes that could be easily redeemed… at your nearest SwipeStation.

While the scale of the project would of course be ambitious, the concept itself is sound. The flexibility and versatility of the SwipeStation means that any reward from any of Pokémon Go’s future potential partners could all be redeemed in multiple convenient locations. The SwipeStations themselves could be placed anywhere, but say they are placed within a McDonald’s restaurant for example. The user on the app passes a ‘Pokéstop’ or ‘Gym’, they collect the items from it and one of them is a redeemable voucher for a cheeseburger in the form of a QR code. The user then, on their next visit to a McDonald’s restaurant simply opens their app and the in game ‘backpack’ to access their vouchers and scans the QR code at the in store SwipeStation. They then take their receipt coupon and redeem it at the counter surprised and delighted by their experience. This process would not only excite customers but would drive new business, converting app users into restaurant customers and also drive return business by enticing them back to the restaurant every time they win redeemable prizes within the game.

Unfortunately no talks with Niantic are currently taking place, but this concept proves SwipeStation’s great potential and is another example of the versatile, flexible and effective nature of what SwipeStation, with just a little imagination, can really do.