Money is an interesting thing. Niantic, the makers behind Pokemon Go, have made a lot of it in the last week — but they can always make more. Thus far the game has been monetized exclusively through in-app purchases of PokeCoins, but turning certain locations into sponsored PokeStops could be a huge boon for their coffers. And this is more than just a loose idea or rumor. Niantic’s John Hanke told the Financial Times that such sponsorships are part of the plan: “There is a second component to our business model at Niantic, which is this concept of sponsored locations.”
It would be premature on Niantic’s part to start announcing such partnerships this early in the game’s life cycle, but lucky for us, some people just love to decompile code — and Niantic might just have left some hints about where players will find the first sponsored PokeStop. I’ll give you a hint: Pidgey McNuggets could be your next Happy Meal.
As first reported by Gizmodo, Australian student and redditor Manu Gill claims to have stumbled across a string of code that makes reference to “Sponsor.MCDONALDS.POKEMON_STORE.” What’s more, several others (KcYoung, NeoProfessorWillow) suggest they’ve found the McDonald’s logo hiding in the game’s code.
And also… it just kind of makes sense. As they’ve proven with McDonald’s Sweden’s VR Happy Meal, McDonald’s isn’t afraid to jump into new gaming frontiers. And Nintendo and McDonald’s have had a great history together, with Pokemon and Mario Happy Meals toys releasing on a seemingly annual basis (one of my most cherished possessions is a Yoshi toy that plays a tune that I “borrowed” from my child’s Happy Meal 10+ years ago, and have yet to give back). Extending their brand partnership with Pokemon Go would be a natural fit.
Nothing is confirmed at this point, but don’t be surprised if your next PokeStop asks “do you want fries with that Mewtwo?”