It all has to do with game developer Niantic's first alternate reality game: Ingress, which launched in 2012. This game also asked people to take their smartphones to real-world locations as part of a fictional global cyberwar.
"Pokémon Go" seems to be largely drawing on the location data collected from Ingress players. But the game's nostalgia-fueled explosion in popularity means that data is having a much greater effect on the real world — for better and for worse.
It's pretty easy to find stories of "Pokémon Go" sending flocks of aspiring trainers to places where they really shouldn't be trying to catch Pokémon — Niantic already lets people flag bizarre, inappropriate or dangerous Pokémon hotspots.
But the additional foot traffic has also been a boon to plenty of small businesses and other enterprises. And "convenient to PokéStop" has already started popping up as a selling point on some real estate ads.
The New York Times reports Niantic plans to take full advantage of its ability to flood any location on Earth with a horde of Pokéfans; the company's apparently planning to let businesses pay to become PokéStops.
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