Today, Niantic is announcing a new initiative to help small businesses in the recovery from the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic thus far this year. The Pokemon Go Local Business Recovery Initiative is planned to help small family-owned businesses, with only a few locations or only a handful of employees.
To make this work, Niantic is counting on Pokemon Go trainers to identify small local businesses that are important to their community and submit them starting today online. Niantic will choose one thousand of the companies and working with them determine when it is safe to be inviting more people, and then they will have a free Pokemon Go Gym or PokeStop at their location. This amounts to free advertising, as they get their logo and name in the game, as well as their location and something that invites foot traffic.
"We will give one thousand local businesses nominated by our Pokemon GO players free promotion in Pokemon GO for a year. Pokemon GO has a unique ability to bring people together, not just online, but in person at local parks, coffee shops, and stores. As communities begin to open up, we want to give our players a chance to help in their community’s recovery. Starting June 15 the Pokemon GO community can have a hand in supporting their community shops by nominating the local business that would benefit the most from receiving this free offering." -- Yennie Solheim, head of Social Impact at Niantic
The initiative will run initially in the US, Japan, Great Britain, Canada, and Mexico. Players will have until the end of next month to nominate their favorite spots as they will close on July 31st. Players will be able to submit one location and will need to fill in a form explaining why they feel the business is crucial to the community. This will also mark the first time that Niantic will be handing over some of the control of when a PokeStop or Gym is set up, as those small businesses will be able to turn on the features themselves so that they can comply to local guidelines regarding COVID-19.
The hope is that the first of these special PokeStops and Gyms will open in September. Players will be able to nominate businesses starting today, and through July 31st.
What do you think of the Pokemon Go Local Business Recovery Initiative? Do you think Niantic is doing enough? Is it to early for such steps? Let us know in the comments below!