It’s barely been two weeks since Pokemon Go debuted, but the augmented reality game has already spawned the inevitable explainers, guides on where to play (hey), hot takes, parodies, backlash, and backlash to the backlash. And we’re now at the point in its life cycle where the inevitable has occurred: Businesses are looking to make bank on the game, thanks to the fact that players have to actually leave their homes and interact with their cities to play it.
This is happening in ways that are totally natural—bars and restaurants, for example, are offering specials and welcoming players who are on Pokemon bar crawls—and ways that are ridiculous. File this one under the latter: The Real Deal chatted with a Citi Habitats broker who wants to use the game’s technology as a way to "create more brand awareness around [a] building & help to foster more showings and in turn deals." Oh, brother.
And sure, in theory, the idea makes sense; people will go to Pokestops and gyms (where you can duke it out with other players) to increase their standing in the game, so why wouldn’t businesses try to reel people in? But there’s a difference between luring people in for a happy-hour special and hoping that you can sell an apartment to someone who just wants to capture the damn Charizard that’s eluded them for days. (Namely, who would actually be in the midst of playing the game, and then stop to, say, rent an apartment?)
Plus, part of the fun of the game is discovering things you didn’t know about your city—historic locations, random murals, and the like—through chasing down the various Pokespots. If you’re constantly being led to places where someone just wants to sell you something, well, where’s the fun in that?
The game’s creators are already planning to let brands and places sponsor locations within the game, so it’s only a matter of time before this becomes a reality. Until then, we can enjoy the pure, uncorrupted version, where each Ponyta you catch doesn’t also come with a side of someone trying to sell you some overpriced real estate.