When Pokemon Go first released, it gave a big boost to businesses who happened to sit near a PokeStop or a Gym. Niantic later introduced sponsored PokeStops for businesses who wanted to attract the Pokemon crowd–and is now giving that privilege away for free to 1000 small businesses in need of a pandemic pick-me-up.
Earlier in the year, Niantic asked its players to nominate local small businesses for the program, asking them to describe why the business is important to them and to the community as a whole. Now, out of more than 38,000 submitted, 1000 businesses across the United States, Canada, Mexico, the UK, and Japan have been chosen to be a part of the Local Business Recovery initiative.
These businesses will receive the same perks as sponsored locations, but without having to pay a cent for the privilege. This means the business will become either a PokeStop or a Gym in Pokemon Go, with the potential to be added to Niantic’s other games at some point.
Niantic is also going to add new tools for sponsored businesses “in the near future,” which will involve being able to create promotional campaigns or even be part of in-game events and features. It all comes as part of Niantic’s Sponsored Location program, which is still in a beta phase.
The businesses chosen to be a part of the Initiative will have free access to the sponsored program for a year. Niantic is clearly hoping more Pokemon Go players will be getting out and about again soon, with a number of its pandemic bonuses having been phased out at the start of October.
GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.