Pokémon Go developer Niantic Labs will partner with businesses to introduce sponsored locations in-game, according to the New York Times. The retail establishments Niantic is working with have not yet been announced, but the move represents a major way of monetizing the free-to-play app.
There's no timetable yet for when to expect sponsored locations to start populating the game's map. Niantic told the Times to expect an announcement "soon."
It’s a move that worked well for Ingress, Niantic’s earlier AR game and Pokémon Go predecessor. In Ingress, well-known places like Jamba Juice, Zipcar and others became noted locations within the game. Companies paid Niantic to become sponsors of the game in exchange for more foot traffic.
That’s because sponsored locations would likely take the form of PokéStops, which players are encouraged to visit to collect items and gain experience. Businesses or other places designated as PokéStops can also attract Pokémon — and trainers — by attaching a special item, a Lure Module, to bring in a large amount of the monsters for a limited time.
Several restaurants, bars and other retail places that happen to double as PokéStops are already using this tactic to increase foot traffic. Our sister site Eater rounded up several restaurants nationwide that have already become infested with Pokémon, and Business Insider reports that many of these are taking advantage of their PokéStop status by investing in Lure Modules to surround their storefronts with, compelling trainers to stop by for a visit.