As reported by several players across the globe, sponsored Pokestops are showing up where they haven’t been seen before. A sponsored Pokestop has a special SPONSORED tag, visible when clicking on Stop details.
It is becoming evident that Niantic is making big strides towards further “monetization” of Pokestops and related game infrastructure.
Johe Hanke, CEO of Niantic, did say in an interview that they are considering “making a move towards more sponsored content” and that they’re planning on opening Pokestop submissions in the near future.
Maybe this move is a first step towards both? We are yet to see more details on the matter, but as far as the current state of the game is concerned, new Pokestop additions could help revitalize the stagnant player base.
Sponsored Pokestops and Gyms
As reported by a player visiting Tokio, Pokestops are not the only sponsored item in game:
“Was recently in Tokyo, every McDonalds I saw was a gym (not stops, therefore no lures). So I guess the appeal is more for gym conquest while you’re there?” – source
There is no word if any of these Pokestops are special in any way, besides being sponsored. Some players have speculated that sponsored Pokestops have an increased chance to drop rare items such as Ultra Balls and lure rare Pokemon. However, there is no hard evidence to support any of these claims.
Players have also reported that sponsored Pokestops have been visible in Japan for a while already:
“They’ve been showing as Sponsored in Japan for a while. McDonalds was first, and I know SoftBank was also added in. I noticed that in Ingress there was a portal at my local SoftBank, but it wasn’t a stop/gym in Go until quite a while later, I assume because they had to renegotiate the contract.” – source