- Pokémon Go developer Niantic is offering in-game rewards to motivate people to participate in cleanup events on Earth Day, April 22, according to a press release. About 40 events are currently scheduled around the world.
- Players of Pokémon Go, who are called "Trainers" in the mobile game, can unlock greater rewards depending on the number of cleanup contributors. Players can access 2x Stardust for catching ground, water and grass-type avatars if 1,500 people participate, and 3x Stardust if 3,000 participate. The rewards will be unlocked for 48 hours after the cleanup event.
- Niantic is working with "gaming-for-good" platform Playmob and local nonprofits on the project, including Mission Blue, an organization that seeks to protect marine life from threats like overfishing and toxic waste.
Niantic appears to be extending the life of the hit mobile game from 2016 with an interactive event that offers in-game rewards based on the number of participants it corrals. At the same time, it's harnessing the game's worldwide popularity for good by encouraging players to help the environment on Earth Day, a smart move as 33% of consumers say they prefer to buy from brands that support social or environmental good. The goal here is to align itself with a global event and leverage Pokémon Go's augmented reality (AR) technology to get people off the couch and interact in the real world with the potential to unlock in-game rewards.
The game's popularity has faded over the past year and it is now ranked No. 34 among free games in Apple's App Store, per SimilarWeb. It's not yet clear how well promotions or events like the one for Earth Day will reignite the game's popularity among American consumers, as Niantic's online map shows just a handful of gatherings planned for the U.S. but many more in European countries. This could point to varying interest levels for apps between U.S. and European consumers.
This isn't the first time a mobile game as been used to help the environment. Playmob last month hosted a "Gaming for the Oceans" dinner during the annual Game Developers Conference to raise awareness about the plight of oceans ahead of June 8's World Oceans Day. The event raised money for Mission Blue with an interactive tournament powered by Amazon GameOn, a gaming service for developers. Players competed for prizes and to raise money for Mission Blue's worldwide network of marine protected areas. Playmob also issued a playable ad campaign in June 2017 to raise awareness of ecological threats to small island developing states. The mobile gaming charity's work mirrored the playable ads strategy of major brands like Chipotle, Pepsi, Kellogg and Coors that have tried the tactic to build relationships with consumers via smartphone.