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    Aug 03, 2016

    Firms to 'lure' customers here with Pokemon Go

    AT LEAST three companies in Singapore are planning to buy "lures" for the latest mobile sensation, Pokemon Go, to attract players to their shops and events when the app launches here.

    Local book retailer Times Publishing, and fibre broadband service providers ViewQwest and MyRepublic are trying to ride their marketing campaigns on this popular augmented-reality game, played through the lens of a smartphone camera.

    Even as players try to catch virtual monsters in real-life locations, Times hopes to direct them - especially children aged 3 to 12 - to its first edutainment event, Happy Sparks, in November at Singapore Expo.

    "Pokemon Go is very popular with kids of all ages. We don't think this is the only reason kids will come to our event but this is another attraction," said a spokesman for Times Experience, Times' event management subsidiary.

    The four-day event will feature mathematics and singing competitions.

    It is not known when the game will launch in Singapore.

    But since its release on July 6, the mobile game has been available in more than 20 places, including the United States, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong. It is free to download but offers in-game purchases.

    "Lures" attract the virtual monsters to a particular location. Each lure costs about US$1 (S$1.34) - or 100 Pokemon gold coins - in the game, and will appear for 30 minutes each time.

    ViewQwest also plans to boost awareness of its retail outlet at Suntec City by planting "lures" there, taking a leaf from the success in Japan, where game-starved diners were crowding McDonald's 3,000 outlets.

    "It's about increasing foot traffic," said Vignesa Moorthy, chief executive of ViewQwest.

    "People will see your brand, and we hope it is an opportunity to reach out to them," said Mr Moorthy, who was in Japan recently.

    Similarly, MyRepublic wants to use lures in the game "as a fun way to attract crowds to our shops", it said. As the game has yet to launch, it is not certain where it can buy lures to attract the virtual monsters.

    Developed by Niantic Labs, Pokemon Go is already generating revenues of US$10 million daily through the sale of in-game items such as "lures" and "Pokeballs" from about 100 million app installations, according to San Francisco-based market research and analytics firm App Annie.

    Assistant Professor Alex Mitchell of the communications and new media department at the National University of Singapore said businesses should think about how to convert visits to business.

    "It should work if playing Pokemon Go and the desired outcome such as eating at McDonald's are complementary," he added.

    Clement Teo, principal analyst at market research firm Ovum, said only companies that have close association with the game will benefit in the long-term as "lures" become commonplace.

    "Times, for instance, will benefit if it sells Pokemon collectible game cards," said Mr Teo. "Another opportunity is to allow gamers to pay for real-world goods in the game using mobile payments."