Unless you’re living under a rock you will have heard of Pokemon Go, the new game in the form of an app created Niantic Inc., an American software development, which is also responsible for its distribution. The game, Pokemon Go, is owned by the Pokemon Company, which is in part owned by Nintendo. Apple and Google are also receiving a lot of the revenue Pokemon Go is creating. The playing of this game has become a craze! So much so that American presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, has even used “Pokemon Go” as a verb, describing how she would like people to respond in the polls. "I don't know who created 'Pokemon Go,' but I'm trying to figure out how we get them to have 'Pokemon Go To the Polls,' she said.
A wave of similar augmented reality games is sure to come, spurred on by the game's success. It's interesting to consider how this may affect the business landscape and what new B2B contracts could arise as a consequence. But before looking at this we must first consider the purchase model of Pokemon Go and what has occurred in the business world so far as a consequence of it.
The purchase model for Pokemon Go is an in-game purchase model. The actual downloading and playing of the game is free for users but items such as Lure Modules, Egg Incubators and Poke Balls are available for purchase with real money. These tools do things such as lure Pokemon to particular places, move Poke eggs closer to hatching and help you catch Pokemon. Lure Modules and other of these items for purchase are not only being used by consumer customers but are also being used by businesses to attract more patrons with exception results. Bon Appetit gives a good summary of the ways restaurants and cafes have been using Lure Modules and other Pokemon Go related strategies to attract customers and the results they’ve seen.
Yelp is also cashing in on the game. It’s using crowdsourcing to provide helpful information about the game to users of its site. T-mobile has announced they won’t charge for data used while using the Pokemon Go app. It’s unclear what the sort of partnership agreement Yelp and T-mobile had to sign with Pokemon Go to be able to offer these types of services. However, it has recently confirmed that in the future businesses will be able to enter into direct contracts with the Pokemon company to promote their products and services. John Hanke, Niantic’s chief executive, said the company would soon announce details about sponsoring locations for Pokemon Go.*
With all this in mind it looks likely that some or all of the following B2B contracts could be "on the cards" for the near future.
1. Contracts for in-game augmented reality advertising where visual or audio advertising for various companies takes place;
2. Sponsorship agreement contracts - augmented reality events that may take place in Pokemon Go and in other future similar programs may be able to be sponsored by various companies. For example, if an augmented reality game for Harry Potter was created Quidditch matches could be sponsored?
3. Data contracts - Pokemon Go could collect and sell data about players location and determine what they may be interested in purchasing due to analysis of their behaviour in playing the game or interaction with in-game augmented reality advertising. This data could be sold to businesses i.e. contracts for data about prospects between Pokemon Go and businesses.
4. Health company contracts - Enterprise Health Benefits Platform companies such as Jiff could partner with Pokemon Go. Information about how much players have been using the game could be used to calculate how many calories they have burned and players (employees) could be given rewards for doing certain amounts of incidental exercise. This sort of rewards program would build on ones that companies such as Jiff already have which are aimed at keeping employees of client companies healthy.**
5. Cybersecurity contracts - Security is a big issue with a game such as Pokemon Go as it holds personal information and data about players’ locations that could be used inappropriately should it come into the wrong hands. Contracts between Pokemon Go and other companies that create similar programs and Cybersecurity companies ensuring the security of the application and players will be important.
So there you have some possible future B2B contracts that may end up coming into being due to Pokemon Go and other augmented reality programs.
What other sorts of B2B contracts could you imagine could arise due to this new phenomenon? How do you think games like Pokemon Go could transform the business landscape?
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*At the moment there is a website where you can submit a location to be considered as a Pokemon Go Gym or PokeStop.
** The rise of Pokemon Go has had several consequences, some of them unforeseen. Apart from a steep rise in the stock price for Nintendo, safety services have had to warn players to be careful while playing the game and not to venture out into unsafe areas and not to play the game while driving! There are reports of muggings and even players accidentally walking off cliffs. Other more positive consequences include that players are venturing outdoors and getting incidental exercise. Some players are even dating after meeting each other due to the app.