Pokémon Go Will Launch in Japan with First Sponsored Gyms


Pokémon Go’s release has already been record breaking. Nintendo has broken stock market records. The app is ranked first across all platforms. It is pulling in at least $1.6 million daily with 7.5 million downloads in the United States alone. Even the Simpsons have already riffed on the popular release. And it still hasn’t launched in Japan.

Well that’s about to change tomorrow, when the highly anticipated Pokémon app launches in Japan on July 20th with the app’s first sponsored locations.

Highly anticipated might be an understatement when speaking about the upcoming release in Japan. According to Bloomberg, since last Friday when McDonald’s started giving away Pokémon figures in their Happy Meals, McDonald’s Holdings Co. (Japan) shares have jumped up by almost 23 percent. This is the company’s biggest gain since its original public offering in July 2001.

According to TechCrunch, when the Niantic Lab’s app launches in Japan, it will feature the game’s first sponsored gyms. McDonald’s has gone all in with Pokémon Go, and all of their Japanese restaurants will also be the locations of gyms. With over 3000 McDonald’s locations in Japan, that is an impressive amount of gyms being added to Japan’s already natural gym locations.

Pokémon Go has been a financial hit for everyone involved with the app since the moment of its release at the beginning of July. McDonald’s sponsorship in Japan is just the beginning, as players should expect similar sponsorships to be found in potentially every country that the game releases in.

“I think that, we hope to end up with a model where, potentially there could be a cost-per-visit type model where large brands and small brands, as well, could sponsor different elements of the game, with the end of interacting with players and really tapping into that enthusiasm of players,” Niantic Labs’ product manager, Brandon Badger, told gamesindustry.biz in an interview.

With Forbes already reporting small businesses who clarify as ‘Poke Shops’ using ‘lures’ to attract players to their location, Pokémon Go sponsorships look to be an important aspect of the game’s future.