Unless you’ve been living under a Geodude, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Pokémon Go. The augmented-reality game, the product of a partnership between Niantic Labs and The Pokémon Company, launched on July 7, and it has since gone on gain some pretty serious momentum — according to SurveyMonkey, it’s leapfrogged Candy Crush and Draw Something to become the most popular mobile game in history. Unsurprisingly, everyone and their mother is attempting to cash in its blockbuster success, and Yelp is the latest to do so shamelessly. On Friday, the crowdsourced business finder launched a new search filter that lets players identify nearby sources in-game items.
Yelp’s “Pokéstop Nearby” filter, which joins the listing app’s many other granular search tags and categories (e.g., “burgers,” “tacos,” “cocktails,” “restaurants,” and “bars”), lets users identify businesses within an arm’s throw of “Pokéstops” — Pokémon Go terminology for caches of Pokéballs, health potions, and other level-boosting goodies. Using the new tool is relatively straightforward: when pursuing, say, brunch or breakfast nooks within walking distance, tap the “Pokéstop Nearby” button and you’ll get a list of Pokémon-friendly businesses.
The caveat? Rather than tapping into Pokémon Go directly for Pokéstop data, Yelp is relying on user submissions to populate the filter with locations. That means, of course, there’s nothing to prevent an unscrupulous restaurant owner from submitting a beneficial location or two, but Yelp said its verification system should weed out most inaccuracies. “To identify a business that’s in the vicinity of a Pokéstop, [users must] check-in to that location on Yelp and answer a quick question,” it said in a blog post. “Yelpers have already identified thousands of Pokéstops.”
The feature first went live in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. On July 22 Pokémon Go players in the U.K., Spain, Italy, and Germany using Yelp could also search for and add Pokéstops. The feature is accessible via Yelp’s apps for iOS and Android, and through Yelp’s website.
Pokémon Go’s popularity continues to astound. The app has accumulated more than 65 million users in the United States, beat out Tinder and Twitter last week in terms of weekly traffic, and now generates an estimated $1.6 million daily from microtransactions. In addition, it’s destroyed relationships, cost jobs, caused car crashes, and led distracted tourists off the edges of cliffs.
But it’s also been used as a tool for sociopolitical good, too. U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign has organized a Pokémon Go rally in Ohio, and there’s evidence of health benefits from improved mental state to physical fitness.
Niantic Labs and The Pokémon Company have big plans in store, as you might expect. In announced upcoming features such as the ability to trade and battle pokémon with other players, references in the game’s code suggest it will soon gain “sponsored locations,” or businesses that pay to host Pokéstops. And it’s set to expand to more than 200 countries in the coming weeks.
Updated on 07-22-2016 by Andy Boxall: Added in news of Yelp’s Pokéstop feature’s continued international release.