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You’ve likely heard about the new Nintendo Pokémon Go game, which comes as an app on your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. The game requires players to wander around the real world capturing Pokémon characters that seem to appear in the local landscape.

Since the game is free to play, one question arises. Who, if anyone, stands to make money off this phenomenon?


In App Buys And Hardware

For starters, Nintendo, as part owner of Niantic, the company that developed the game, may profit from in-app purchases made by players. These buys include such things as incense designed to lure Pokémon characters so they can be captured.

In addition, Nintendo said it planned to sell a $35 stand-alone device called Pokémon Go Plus, which will provide players an easier path to monster capture.

Additional Ownership

Niantic was actually spun out of Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGC) Google. While Niantic hasn’t disclosed the precise ownership stakes of any company, it is likely Alphabet is in on the action.

At any rate, the Google app store handles the Android side of in-app purchases and that has already generated revenue for Alphabet. On the iOS side of the ledger, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPLC) handles that and some experts have predicted Apple would gain more revenue than any of the other players.

Local Retailers Also Stand To Gain

Since Pokémon Go forces players to go out into the real world to play the game, it took retailers about a second and a half to realize they could use the game and phenomenon to drive traffic to their brick and mortar locations.

Local businesses lucky enough to be designated Poké Stops or gyms are jumping on the bandwagon by using digital lures to attract Pokémon creatures, as well as their human hunters.

Malls And More

Niantic decides where to place both Poké Stops and gyms – where you can pick up accessories, capture Pokémon or train your characters, but it’s likely only a matter of time before major retailers will be able to sign up (for a fee).

In the meantime, many stores including Macy’s Inc. (NYSE:MB), Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE:JWNB) and most malls have already discovered they are “on the A list.” Pokémon have also been spotted in Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ:SBUXC) locations, McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE:MCDC) restaurants to name just a few.


Anywhere And Everywhere

In truth, Pokémon can be “found” just about anywhere. With or without help from Niantic, any retailer with a physical location may find itself near a Poké Stop or gym or just a bunch of Pokémon waiting to be captured.

At the end of the day, mobile-based augmented reality gaming as it grows and begins to include other types of games and apps could provide a boost to brick and mortar retailers at a time when e-commerce and mobile-based shopping is stifling growth in a big way. The irony should not be lost on anyone.

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