At Niantic, we are passionate about bringing communities together. As part of our efforts to assist small and local businesses, we gave 1,000 nominated businesses complimentary promotion in Pokémon GO for one year. Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing some of their stories. This week, we take a look at how a retro video arcade leverages its Niantic Sponsored Location to help revive their business.
“Welcome to Nostalgia “
When you walk into Boss Battle Games at the Castleton Square Mall in Indianapolis, you see flashing neon lights and hear the sounds of pinball machines and classic video games, including “Galaga,” “Pac-Man,” and “Defender.” It's a throw back in time, a feeling of nostalgia.
Co-owned by Dustin and Phylicia Burd, Boss Battle Games is a hub for teenagers and adults who want the thrill of playing video games with the high intensity that you can only get in a buzzing arcade. Dustin explains, “When I was a teenager, I dreamt of running an arcade. So, we built a place where we wanted to go when we were teenagers. It's our passion project.”
Dustin and Phylicia Burd, co-owners of Boss Battle Games. Indianapolis, USA
Like many local businesses, Boss Battle Games has had to adjust to the business impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first business to close at Castleton Square Mall and last to open four months later with limited capacity. Dustin said, “It’s been a rough year. We’re selling a social gathering experience — and that is exactly what everyone is told not to do right now.”
Before the pandemic, Boss Battle Games held numerous gaming events. Phylicia, who has played “Ingress” and other Niantic games for years, is an avid “Pokémon GO” player. She downloaded “Pokémon GO” the first day it launched, and is currently a level 40 Trainer (though is aiming for level 50 soon). At the arcade she has a Pikachu machine, “Pokémon Catch” and offers Pokémon figurines as prizes.
Phylicia said, “Niantic is about coming together as a community and socializing in-person through games. The Pokémon GO community and Niantic spirit really fit the environment that Dustin and I are trying to create at our arcade.”
Becoming a Niantic Sponsored Location
This community was exactly where Phylicia learned about Niantic’s Local Business Recovery Initiative. Niantic selected 1,000 small businesses to join Pokémon GO as a Niantic Sponsored Location to help revive local businesses during hard times. The physical locations of local storefronts appear as sponsored PokéStops or Gyms on the Pokémon GO in-game map. Boss Battle Games was one of the businesses to be selected after Phylicia applied.
With a Sponsored Gym Location, players visit the arcade to battle it out with other players in the Gym to earn points. Once they arrive at the arcade, you often hear them say “what is this place?” Phylicia smiles and says, “Welcome to Nostalgia.” The players meet other Pokémon players and the social gathering experience begins again — keeping a safe distance, of course.
It's Pokemon Go Community Day! Find your shiny Magmar at the arcade! #pokemongo #PokemonGOCommunityDay #niantic #nintendoPosted by Boss Battle Games on Saturday, November 21, 2020
“Without a doubt, we have seen an increase in foot traffic since we’ve become a Niantic Sponsored Location,” comments Dustin. “Many arcades are down fifty, sixty, eighty percent in revenues, and we were down at that level too. The combination of being a Sponsored Gym Location combined with our social and advertising strategies has helped us finally see our numbers increase again.”
Phylicia continues, “I can't emphasize enough how much this means to us as a business. It's a very difficult time, and we are fighting tooth and nail to stay open. To have this gift of opportunity is very humbling.”