Pokémon GO launches in Japan with sponsored gyms at 3000 McDonald’s outlets

Rounding out the major launch countries, Pokémon GO has hit Japan — the home nation of Nintendo and Pokémon. Due to the major cultural significance of the company and intellectual property behind Pokémon, developers are expecting Pokémon GO to be a big hit in the region.

The launch in Japan also has knock-on effects for the player base in the rest of the world as it shows how the game plans to add advertising to the game for additional monetization. In Japan, 3000 McDonald’s outlets have been turned into sponsored Pokémon gyms where players can go and take over the area after battling.

The idea seems like an unobtrusive way for the freemium game to rake in some extra cash. Although the game includes the normal array of ‘organic’ Pokéstops and gyms, it will encourage people to visit McDonald’s to battle at the sponsored gyms.

In the deal, Pokémon GO offers more places for players to meet and interact in the game as well as bringing in some more revenue — McDonald’s undoubtedly receives some additional footfall into its restaurants from the deal.

Assuming the initial Japan sponsorship is successful, expect to see this spread worldwide in every country Pokémon GO is available over time. Not that Pokémon GO is in dire need of a cashflow stream, of course.

The smash hit game continues to dominate App Store charts, ranking 1st in Top Free and Top Grossing. The game is estimated to pull in billions of dollars of revenue over the next twelve months.

Pokémon GO is available as a free download in the App Store for iPhone and iPad with a variety of freemium upgrades available at additional cost that help speed up gameplay.

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