Businesses across Scotland are scrambling to find ways to cash in on the Pokémon Go craze which has swept the nation.
Shops and venues are battling to bring players through their doors by dropping “lures” to attract more Pokémon to their stores, or becoming Pokéstops and “gyms” which Pokémon Go players need to visit. App developers have also jumped on the bandwagon, with a string of new products related to the game while in the US, businesses have sprung up of people charging to “walk” players’ phones if they are too busy to play during the day.
The game, which has generated a massive buzz since its US and Australian debut last week, officially launched in Scotland on Wednesday – although hundreds of Scots are believed to have already downloaded it via the American site by switching their location settings ahead of the official UK launch.
The game uses the clock and GPS functions on a phone to make Pokémon characters – based on the 1990s Game Boy hits – “appear” around a player, through their phone screen. The player then has to “catch” the Pokémon as they walk around the real world.
Tokyo Toys, a Glasgow shop specialising in Manga cartoons, has launched an online campaign to become a Pokémon “gym”. Advanced players can hone their skills if they spend time in a place which is nominated as a gym.
The store already has a special area for customers playing Pokémon Go.
“People wander about the shop looking for Pokémon and buy stuff while they are in here,” says shop assistant Sarah Gunn. “It has been good for business.”
At Glasgow’s Cineworld Imax cinema in the Glasgow Science Centre, staff member and Pokémon Go fan David Grimason spotted an opportunity to attract Pokémon fans into the building, which has five “pokéstops” in one of its car parks and is already listed as a gym, by using a “lure module”, a device which attracts virtual Pokémon to a location for 30 minutes. “My manager couldn’t believe it – there were people queueing up to get in and 30 to 40 people outside.”
Comic book shop Settlers Hamilton has offered a free soft drink to anyone dropping a “lure” outside its store in South Lanarkshire.
Pokémon Go apps on the market range from one which claims to block all mentions of Pokémon on the internet to others which give information about the status of the Pokémon Go servers or offer specific chat facilities for people wanting to talk about the game.
One American app, PokéCoaches, offers to remotely take over a player’s account to train their Pokémon catching abilities while they are at work.