In a new interview, Pokémon GO developers share details about how the game will work, as well as confirm the inclusion of gyms, live events and teams.
With September's announcement of Pokémon GO, an augmented reality mobile game developed by The Pokémon Company and Ingress developers, Niantic, fans have been eagerly awaiting details about how the game will operate. Previously, the only thing fans had to go on was the announcement trailer, which shows almost no gameplay.
Just recently, though, John Hanke and Mike Quigley from Niantic sat down with Venture Beat to provide more details on the project, as well as answer some of the all important questions that fans need answered. During the interview, Hanke revealed:
"Pokémon will live in different parts of the world depending on what type of Pokémon they are. Water Pokémon will live near the water. It may be that certain Pokémon will only exist in certain parts of the world. Very rare Pokémon may exist in very few places. But you can trade."
According to the developers, Pokémon GO will be very similar to Ingress in play-style, and, while the developers aim to ensure that a player can walk out of their house and encounter a wild Pokémon within 5 minutes, it may not be the rarest Pokémon in the world. Like Niantic's previous project, Pokémon GO will host a number of events in order to allow players to trade the Pokémon from their regions with those found in faraway locations. Hanke stated that Pokémon trading is going to be a huge thing, as no player will be able to collect all the creatures by themselves, unless they take a year off work to travel the world. "There may be some people who do that," he added.
Hanke also confirmed the Pokémon GO world will include gyms, the popular boss battle destinations featured in almost every Pokémon game. Gyms will be rare, but provide players with an opportunity to battle and level up the Pokémon that they have collected. The public events will also be competitive in nature, suggesting that players may be able to battle for rewards and to train their Pokémon. When asked whether live events are something that the game will do right off the bat, Hanke replied by saying, "We haven’t announced yet, but I’d say that given the success we’ve had with Ingress, it’s a pretty safe bet."
While Ingress only featured two factions for players to align with, Pokémon GO will offer a fair share of options. When asked whether the game would feature any story content, Hanke claimed that he had "nothing to say about that presently."
During the interview, John Hanke provided a slightly more in-depth look at how players will use the Pokémon GO Plus device in order to control their game. The device, which can be used as a watch or clip, senses nearby creatures and informs the wearer of their presence by vibrating and flashing. By pressing the button in a certain sequence, the trainer can capture the Pokémon and then view it later on their mobile device. In this way, users aren't forced to continually take out their phones to play the game.
As the interview progressed, Hanke and Quigley spoke about the monetary side of the project. Pokémon GO was funded massively by Google, The Pokémon Company, and Nintendo who together poured $30 million into the game's development. This money has allowed a team of 41 developers to assemble, which is still a small team when the size of the worldwide project is considered.
Although a game like Pokémon GO takes inspiration from an MMO environment, John Hanke believes that this new project could be even more popular than its predecessors:
"I think we can be bigger than World of Warcraft. There are more mobile devices than gaming-configured PCs out there."
It's certainly an ambitious claim to make, especially as the popular MMO is still going strong after many years, and it is gearing up to release its sixth expansion next year. Furthermore, World of Warcraft also has a movie set to release around the same time, which will hopefully breed some cross pollination between the visual and interactive worlds. That said, Pokémon has always had a strong following and Pokémon GO looks to be the game we've always been waiting for; a chance to go out into the world and be a real Pokémon trainer.
In other Pokémon news, Pokémon GO will not be the only game from the popular franchise that will release next year. The Tekken x Pokémon crossover that is Pokken Tournament will be coming to the Wii U in Spring 2016 and has recently announced a bundle deal for those looking to pick up the console. On top of that, during Nintendo's latest direct presentation, they announced that the original games: Red, Blue, and Yellow would be making an appearance on the eShop.
Pokémon GO is set to release in 2016 for iOS and Android devices.