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‘Pokémon Go’ creator could be on the verge of making some serious dough

If you’re playing Pokémon Go and find yourself landing up at an increasing number of restaurants, stores, and other businesses to catch your creatures, it’s likely to be the game’s new monetization strategy kicking in.

Keen to cash in on the game’s phenomenal – and instant – popularity, creator Niantic is reportedly planning to introduce sponsored locations as a way of enabling businesses to attract more people to their premises.

For those not in the know, Pokémon Go uses augmented reality to let players navigate the real world to capture Pokémon. A fantasy version of Google Maps reveals the whereabouts of the creatures, encouraging users to travel to different places to play the game with their smartphone.

Related: This Pokémon Go player used a drone, but it didn’t help

The free Android and iOS game, which launched last week in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, currently makes money off in-app purchases, but sponsored locations looks set to guarantee another lucrative revenue stream.

The plan was revealed by Niantic boss John Hanke, who told the FT this week that it’s considering letting companies pay “to be locations within the virtual game board – the premise being that it is an inducement that drives foot traffic.” Businesses that drop cash to be featured in the game will be charged on a “cost per visit” basis, the FT said.

Related: The Pokémon Go phenomenon just got an angry man fired from his job

If the experience of one New York City business is anything to go by, signing up to Niantic’s ad product could certainly prove beneficial. L’inizio’s Pizza Bar in Queens found out by chance that it’d been designated as a location in the game without even asking, Bloomberg reported.

That was good news in itself, as more people were visiting the restaurant to play the game. However, realizing that forking out $10 on the game’s “Lure Modules” would attract more Pokémon – and thereby even more game players – to the pizza joint, the manager quickly paid up. The result? A jump in sales of around 30 percent over a typical weekend.

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