Pokémon GO Launches in Japan With McDonald’s Sponsor Deal

Pokémon GO has finally made it around to the birthplace of the franchise: Japan. Today, developer Niantic Labs finally launched the game in Japan with an interesting new marketing deal: McDonald’s locations are gyms.

While most of the games’s gyms seem to be chosen at random by Niantic’s location data pulled from its previous location-based mobile game, Ingress, in Japan the developer has made a specific deal with McDonald’s to turn 3,000 of the fast food chain’s restaurant locations into gyms.

Gyms act as hotspots for player activity as each of the game’s three teams vie for control through Pokémon battles, so a sponsored push from a specific business is a pretty brilliant move on all parts. Niantic gets money from the deal, McDonald’s get an influx of customers and players get lots of additional gym locations to add value to the game — and at a place many might already hang out at anyway.

Hopefully, the addition of yet another country on Niantic’s already-strained servers won’t render the game unplayable again.