Niantic have revealed a new initiative within their popular augmented reality game Pokémon Go to help promote local businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. They will turn 1000 player-nominated small and local businesses into in-game PokéStops through the snappily named Niantic Local Business Recovery Initiative, helping to promote the stores and hopefully encourage more foot traffic through the community.
Starting today, high-level trainers will be able to fill out a form – available here – to nominate businesses in the US, Canada, Mexico, UK and Japan, highlighting the work that they do and impact that they have on the local community. The intention is that these businesses should be small, with a focus on family owned companies with under 10 employees and a single or small number of locations.
Businesses picked by Niantic will then be offered integration into Pokémon Go that will be free for a year. They’ll then be able to decide when their digital presence goes live in the game, ensuring that the game caters to the individual needs of a business and match their ability to reopen after lockdown restrictions are lifted in a given country or region.
It’s a really interest move by Niantic, but one that we hope goes further. While originally set for 1000 businesses, if there’s enough demand and suggestions from the game’s players, then Niantic might expand it to feature more companies.
Niantic have had to adapt a lot during the Covid-19 pandemic. When lockdowns came into effect earlier this year, they quickly added to the game as lockdowns came into effect around the world, helping the an initial dip in game activity to quickly rebound as it adapted to restrictions being imposed on player movements. That ranged from lowering the step count thresholds for certain in-game challenges and extending the distance with which you can interact with gyms and stops, to adding the Remote Raid Pass, so that you don’t have to head out to battle. Fortuitously, the launch of the Battle League head-to-head multiplayer mode was back in January.
They’ve now announced their plans for the first virtual Pokémon Go Fest, to be held in July, taking the format of the popular in-person events and making them available to all. Read more about how they’re making that a reality here.