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Pokémon GO's first 'sponsored location' lands tomorrow

The first sponsored location - or in-game destination sponsored by a company - is coming to Pokémon GO tomorrow, and you'll never guess who it is.

Published onJuly 19, 2016

Pokemon Go Gotcha Poke Ball

We all knew sponsored locations were coming to Pokémon GO, right? But did you know the first one will be arriving as soon as tomorrow? That’s right, the augmented reality game that has taken the world by storm has already sold out to corporate sponsorship. And you thought it was about making new friends and getting some exercise.

What your Pokémon GO team says about you

Pokémon GO will officially launch in its spiritual home of Japan tomorrow (its first Asian destination). But it will land with more than server slowdowns, app crashes and buggy behavior. The game’s first sponsored location will also debut with the launch, and you’ll never guess who it is.

As you may recall, Niantic’s CEO John Hanke recently admitted that sponsored locations would soon allow certain partners to buy their way into the hearts and minds of the Pokémon faithful. They will do this by having their business premises transformed into potentially lucrative “gyms”, making them irresistible destinations for the mostly young demographic playing Pokémon GO.

What familiar business relies on luring the young and impressionable to its locations under the pretense of fun...

If a business relying on luring the young and impressionable – as well as their parents – to its locations under the pretense of fun sounds like a familiar M.O., then you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the first sponsored location partner is to be McDonalds.

Pokemon Go Main screens

TechCrunch reports that McDonalds will be “the first launch partner in a tie-in that will see its 3,000 plus fast food restaurants across Japan become gyms for would-be Pokémon collectors.” The big upshot of this rather depressing but oh-so-obvious outcome is that at least McDonalds has free Wi-Fi, so your data limit won’t take a hit while you’re training.

We’ll have to wait and see exactly how sponsored locations are handled by participating businesses. But rest assured that sponsored locations will soon be rolling out globally. Who knows, there may be nothing more to it than “McDonalds is now a gym” and that is all. But it’s doubtful. There’s just too much potential to cash in on the craze to just hope visiting Pokémon trainers buy a burger.

We'll have to wait and see exactly how sponsored locations are handled by participating businesses.

McDonalds in Japan has already seen an increase in its share price based on Pokémon-themed Happy Meals – even before the game has officially launched there. So you can more than likely expect all manner of in-restaurant tie-ins and promotions. And much, much, longer lines for food. However it pans out, it will be interesting to see if McDonalds’ approach provides the blueprint for sponsors that follow.

Do you think sponsored locations will ruin the game? What is your least favorite part of Pokémon GO?

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