Last week, a new scourge took hold of humanity. People wander, zombie-like, heads glued to phones, swiping, tapping, and occasionally glancing up to compare their real-world surroundings to what they see on their phones. Some, unaware of physical reality, fall in holes; others wander into the thick of an armed robbery. But no matter what, they're on a mission: they're hunting Pokémon.
The new Pokémon game for smart phones, Pokémon GO, puts digital Pokémon in the real world. In GO, Pokémon hunters have to catch those wacky little monsters in public spaces, and train them against other players at real-life locations that stand in for Pokémon gyms. Pokémon might be hiding in a public park, a bus stop, or places of business and private homes, and people looking for Pokémon GO have started to congregate wherever the game takes them.
While some businesses have purchased in-game items that cause Pokémon to congregate in a particular place in order to draw customers through the doors, a photo circulating on Reddit that has landed on a few blogs depicts a sign in the window of a Dairy Queen that reads, "POKEMON ARE FOR PAYING CUSTOMERS ONLY."
And it does appear that Dairy Queen is a popular location for Pokémon hunting:
But hold the Poképhone—some people are now saying that the image is Photoshopped.
No, Dairy Queen wasn't turning away loitering Pokémon GO users, even if they are wandering in glued to their phones in search of Pokémon. ("Pokémon" replaced "Restrooms" after some clever photo-editing of the sign.) To the contrary, given the enormity of the game's user base, publications like Forbes are offering suggestions for how businesses like coffee shops and restaurants can best lure in potential customers using Pokémon GO.
Pokémon GO is huge, to put it mildly. Since its release on July 6, it has quickly become the most popular download on the Apple App Store, and even though it's free, in game purchases are making it the top-grossing app out there. On Android, within a day of Pokémon GO's release, more users had installed Pokémon GO than Tinder, according to SimilarWeb. By day two, one in every 20 Android phones in the United States had installed the game. Nintendo's stock is up 25 percent due to the excitement generated by the game.
So who knows—maybe you'll start to see special offers at your local coffee shop or café or even Dairy Queen for Pokémon GO users. People are already making their restaurant choices based on what Pokémon they might catch while dining, and Mediterranean chain Zoës Kitchen, for one, is giving away gift cards to people who catch Pokémon in their restaurants.
As long as people aren't spending all their real-world money on PokéCoins, customers could come for the Pokémon and stay for the food.