The recent Pokemon GO update reveals that Niantic is incorporating virtual reality elements into the game, leading some to speculate that VR support is coming soon.
Even those living under a rock might not be forgiven if they don’t know about Pokemon GO, the camera intensive GPS-based application that has taken the world by storm. The game allows everyone to fulfill their childhood dream of being a Pokemon trainer, and allows players to use their phone in order to actually look around and see Pokemon right in their own homes via augmented reality. Those thinking it sounds like a perfect candidate for a VR experience aren’t alone, and recent news suggests that Pokemon GO developer Niantic is officially edging closer towards the VR spectrum.
During the latest 1.01 update, gamers who took a close eye at the licensing notes will have noticed that Niantic has officially used assets for Google Cardboard, a virtual reality headset that gamers can purchase for a relative cheap price, as it uses the gamer’s own phone to render a virtual reality environment. While Pokemon GO doesn’t officially support any virtual reality headset compatibility features for the time being, it’s now clear that Niantic is definitely working on integrating some VR components into the game.
Given that the game has encouraged thousands of gamers to run around their neighborhoods in an effort to catch Pokemon, there are plenty of valid safety concerns with the idea of using Google Cardboard in tandem with the application. Many police departments have already posted safety notices to encourage gamers to pay attention to their surroundings while playing. Not to mention, some gamers have already been robbed as they attempted to follow lures within the game.
In short, there are plenty of dangers with the core game already. Those wearing a VR headset wouldn’t even be able to appropriately navigate around any area safely, although that issue gets avoided if players hire personal drivers to drive them to PokeStops.
Nothing is official as of yet, but the premise is certainly food for thought. The game already has a strong element of movement-based augmented reality, and would lend itself well to the VR platform. In any event, Niantic certainly has its work cut out for the time being (especially in regards to its server capacity), and the next immediate goal for the company should be to complete its global launch of the game.
Pokemon GO is slowly rolling out world-wide, and is currently available in a number of regions including the United States, Australia, and Germany.