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Pokemon Go boosts foot traffic in Philippine's malls

Aug 14. 2016
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MANILA - Shopping malls in the metropolis are turning into huge playgrounds for people of all ages who brave inclement weather and heavy traffic just to catch a Pokemon (pocket monster).

Pokemon Go is a GPS-based augmented reality mobile game that challenges players to catch as many Pokemons as they can.

“Since the launch of Pokemon Go in the Philippines over the weekend, our parks and malls have filled with Pokemon hunters.

“Gamers continue to play and visit our malls despite the rains,” said head of marketing at Ayala Malls Maricris Bernardino, who cited the malls’ outdoor spaces for adding “excitement (to the hunt), as several unique Pokemon monsters were found in the gardens and parks”.

SM Supermalls senior vice president Steven Tan said as much.

“Our malls are favourite hunting grounds for Pokemon Go trainers as we have a lot of sightings. It’s also a safe place to go and play this game.”

 ‘Lure’ parties

SM hosted on Friday night a nationwide Pokemon Go “lure” party across its 50 SM Supermalls and SMDC Properties, with each mall offering different kinds of freebies, Pokemon face painting and instant prizes.

But Robinsons Malls was the first to bring out give-aways of gift certificates in the wake of the app launch, the mall’s marketing director Eunice Gonzalez said.

Robinsons “had been anticipating the arrival of (the game) in the Philippines”.

Eastwood City’s foot traffic more than doubled last week, said Harold Geronimo, assistant vice president at Megaworld Corp.

Eastwood City had 19 Pokestops, with more than 20 kinds of Pokemons sighted in the area.

Foot traffic was also higher last week at McKinley Hill, Burgos Circle and Venice Piazza, he said. The effect was felt mostly on dining sales.

Nix Nolledo, who chairs Xurpas Inc, which develops mobile games, said Pokemon Go developer Niantic Labs had a very interesting approach to the game, since it doesn’t use too much telco data and relies mainly on GPS.

The Niantic guys “are very good in what they do with location-based type of data. That capability – augmented reality – has been a capability of smartphones for a long time.

“It’s just that Niantic was the first to create a global application that works,” he said.

Telcoms benefit

Ramon Isberto, public affairs head of telecom giant PLDT, said telecom firms also benefit from this mobile app through greater data usage.

“Pokemon Go expands the space of games on the mobile phone,” he said.

PLDT’s wireless arm Smart Communications has offered unlimited data for Pokemon Go for seven days starting last month. It would bring back Free Pokemon Go from yesterday to September 15.

“You asked, we listened…No catch, no fine print,” PLDT chair Manny Pangilinan tweeted.

It has also tied up with SM to offer unlimited Pokemon Go data usage for its lure party.


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