Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Getting Help from Pokemon GO
Niantic, the developer of Pokemon GO, officially launched their Local Business Recovery Initiative to help companies that have been impacted by the coronavirus worldwide. According to their website, the developer aims to turn the world into a “giant board game” and encourages users to interact with locations that are both meaningful and interesting ranging from small locally owned businesses to giant corporations and big box stores.
Responding to the Pandemic
Many small businesses are not recovering and are facing closure due to the pandemic. As a response, Niantic strives to add 1,000 small businesses throughout the world as sponsored stops on the Pokemon GO game over the next year. The company is offering the initiative for free as a way to help make a positive impact and plans to leave these stops even after other COVID-19 gameplay changes are abandoned.
The Niantic Local Business Recovery Initiative was announced earlier this summer and has encouraged fans of Pokemon GO to actively participate in the process by nominating local businesses to be included on the map. Gamers in Japan, Mexico, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada have all participated in hopes of increasing local commerce and customers in their own respective countries.
Where to Go from Here
Over 38,000 businesses were nominated in what Niantic called a “phenomenal response.” Now the developer is faced with the massive task of narrowing down the list to 1,000 businesses in order to actively include them in the game. Many of these businesses have already gone live on the game map.
Niantic’s requires participating businesses to adhere to local health and safety regulations since their establishments will be transformed in the virtual world to Field Research locations. In addition, businesses must be “small and local” and operate “five or less storefront locations.”
A wide range of businesses have been successfully nominated for Pokemon GO including Chop Chop Shop MX (a game shop in Mexico City), F.M. Light & Sons (a family-owned apparel and Western-wear in Steamboat Springs, Colorado), Five Girls Baking (a family-run café and bakery in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada), and Blitzkrieg Chop (an inclusive hair shop in Worthing, West Sussex, United Kingdom).
These shops will be encouraged to partake with in-game events in the future. Currently, they are more than just gyms or Poke stops, they are “empowered to run promotion campaigns that reach players nearby,” making the experience interactive.
Niantics efforts are sure to help struggling businesses that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic during this unforeseen time. Additionally, it will give Pokemon GO players the chance to explore new places that are safe while discovering new businesses within their communities.