Since it came out a couple weeks ago, “Pokémon GO” has been a pure experience compared to other free-to-play phone games. There’s been a distinct lack of advertising in the app, which is honestly refreshing.
Get ready for all of that to fall apart, as the game’s launch in Japan brings with it a massive McDonald’s sponsorship. The 3,000 McDonald’s restaurants in Pokémon’s home country will all be converted to Pokéstops or gyms in the game. Pokéstops are landmarks where players can pick up a fresh supply of items every few minutes, and gyms are places where players can do battle with one another, with the victor claiming temporary supremacy over a real-life location.
If you’re curious, here’s what a McPokéstop looks like in the game:
Not especially mindblowing, right? It doesn’t need to be! You know exactly what you’re getting into when you see one of those things. You’re going to spin the golden arches, get some Pokéballs and Razzberries, and then pick up a 20-piece McNugget meal because you feel like treating yourself. Live your best life.
Obviously, this is an incredibly smart move by McDonald’s. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but McDonald’s is pretty popular. So is “Pokémon GO”! It only makes sense for the fast food giant to incentivise people to play the game that’s capturing everyone’s attention while they’re getting a bite to eat.
“Ingress,” the previous game by the makers of “Pokémon GO,” also had sponsored locations in the game, such as Jamba Juice. As you can see in the descriptive text in that image, they actually worked Jamba Juice into the sci-fi hacker lore of the game, which is pretty impressive. It doesn’t seem like “Pokémon GO” does anything like that, unfortunately.
So far, this is only in Japan, with nothing announced regarding sponsored in-game content in other countries. Since “Pokémon GO” is such a massive hit, it’s inevitable that something like this will come to the west at some point. I, for one, would really like to catch a Zubat wearing a Taco Bell hat. Just saying.