It has always been our vision at Niantic to turn the world into a giant game board, composed of the meaningful and interesting locations around us. Many of those places we visit or walk by every day range from big brands to local family-owned businesses with just a few employees. An appreciation for the range of businesses and services in the neighborhoods where we live and play led us to start the Sponsored Locations Early Access Beta program in late 2019.
This year, many local businesses have faced unprecedented levels of hardship brought on by the global pandemic. To help revitalize local communities, we decided to leverage our game platform, with a goal of adding 1,000 small businesses globally as sponsored locations for the next year - for free.
Earlier this summer, we announced the Niantic Local Business Recovery Initiative which encouraged Pokémon GO players in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., and Japan to nominate their favorite local businesses as places of interest in the game, which adds those businesses to the game map, and subsequently helps drive awareness and commerce. We received a phenomenal response from players, with more than 38,000 businesses nominated.
Now that we’ve narrowed down that expansive list to 1,000, we’re so excited to begin bringing those businesses to life in Pokémon GO, starting today.
So what exactly will those 1,000 local businesses experience, and who are they?
They are businesses that must be “small and local”—operating five or less storefront locations—and adhere to local health and safety regulations. Additional criteria can be found here.
Here are just a handful of the many businesses that will now be featured in game:
- F.M. Light & Sons, a family-owned Western wear and apparel store in Steamboat Springs, Colorado that’s been operating since 1905.
- Chop Chop Shop MX, a game shop in Mexico City that has created an inclusive environment open to all ages, fostering a community of gamers who call this business a second home.
- Blitzkrieg Chop, an inclusive hair shop in Worthing, West Sussex U.K. that serves the local alt, punk and nerd communities by hosting Pokémon GO community days, art pop-ups and offers free head-shavings for charity.
- Five Girls Baking, a family-run bakery and cafe in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada that’s been supporting its community during the pandemic with free bread for those in need.
In the near future, these small businesses will not just become PokéStops or Gyms in Pokémon GO, they will also be empowered to run promotion campaigns that reach players nearby, and take part in other in-game events and new features.
Niantic’s Local Business Recovery Initiative is designed to spotlight some of the most beloved local businesses in communities around the world to our players. Becoming a sponsored location will highlight these businesses for our Explorers and aid in the recovery of the businesses and the communities which they serve.
Niantic’s Sponsored Location Program continues to grow, and will be launching in other Niantic location-based titles in the future.
For more information on the Niantic Local Business Recovery Initiative and Niantic’s Sponsored Locations for Business, please visit this page.
–Carla Li, Niantic Senior Product Manager for Sponsorships