Pokemon GO Launches Plan to Help Small Business Impacted by COVID-19

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Niantic launches its Local Business Recovery Initiative to help support local businesses struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and its continued impact upon businesses and industries worldwide, Pokemon GO developer Niantic has officially launched its Local Business Recovery Initiative to help small businesses across the globe. In an official statement shared on its website, Niantic shared how its vision has always been to turn the world into a “giant game board,” one that encourages its users to scout out and interact with meaningful and interesting locations around them ranging from big brand stores to local family-owned businesses.

With many local businesses unfortunately closing down and suffering hard times due to the coronavirus pandemic, Niantic has launched the Local Business Recovery Initiative in its efforts to help revitalize local communities. This initiative will see the developer add 1,000 small businesses across the world as sponsored locations into its popular Pokemon GO mobile game by next year, all for free, even as it removes other COVID-19 based gameplay changes.

Originally announced earlier this summer, the Niantic Local Business Recovery Initiative actively encouraged Pokemon GO players to nominate their favorite local businesses as a place of interest in the game. Gamers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Japan were all able to put forward nominated businesses, which would then be added to the game map, subsequently creating awareness of their existence and, hopefully, boosting their commerce and customer base in the process.

Niantic reported it received a “phenomenal response” to the request, with over 38,000 businesses being put forward. No small task, the developer then narrowed down the potential 38,000 to 1,000, with many already live and others being actively included into the game.

In order to have been applicable, Niantic explained that the chosen businesses must be defined as “small and local,” which it specified equates to “operating five or less storefront locations.” These businesses must also adhere to all local health and safety regulations, turning their establishments into potential in-game Field Research locations.

As an example of the diversity to be included in Pokemon GO under this new initiative, some of the successfully nominated businesses include: F.M. Light & Sons, a family-owned Western Wear and apparel store in Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Chop Chop Shop MX, a game shop in Mexico City; Blitzkrieg Chop, an inclusive hair shop in Worthing, West Sussex in the United Kingdom, and Five Girls Baking, a family-run bakery and cafe in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Niantic explained how these small businesses will not just be PokeStops or Gyms in the game, but will instead be “empowered to run promotion campaigns that reach players nearby.” They will also be actively encouraged to take part in other in-game events in the future.

Given the severe impact the coronavirus has wrecked throughout so many businesses and industries, Niantic’s efforts will undoubtedly help those struggling during this time, giving Pokemon GO users an excuse to safely continue exploring new places and discovering new businesses to help boost their local communities.

Pokemon GO is available for Android and iOS devices.

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