E3 Pokémon GO Developer Q&A Highlights

Yesterday, the Pokémon GO Developer Q&A was live streamed during day 2 of Nintendo Treehouse at E3. The Q&A lasted about 45 minutes and we’ll be touching on the highlights of the Q&A while leaving out some of the fluff. If you’re interested and watching the whole Q&A, we recorded the full stream:


Field test going great

The field tests going on in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and The United States have been going great! They have been able to collect a lot of data based from testers game play and have been receiving some amazing feedback as well. One thing you should remember if you’re a Field tester, is that they are taking tester feedback very seriously. Tell them what is working, what needs to be worked on, and any other grand ideas that you think could help shape this into the game we want it to be.

It’s stated that there are tens of thousands players participating in the field test and last time they checked there were 30 Pokéballs being thrown per second.

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Aprils Fool day joke started it all

In our original speculation video, we guessed that the Google Maps Pokémon Challenge joke was them feeling out how people would like a location based Pokémon game. Turns out we aren’t all that far off! Google Maps, Niantic, and The Pokémon Company saw that this would be a great opportunity and are excited to make what was originally a Aprils Fools joke into a real game. While the community has milled over this, it was still awesome hearing them reference it.


Pokémon beyond Red/Blue games

Since it’s the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, they decided to start the game with Pokémon from the original Red and Blue games. Eventually, they state you’ll be able to collect them all. This would take the count from 151 to 700+ over time.


“Core 50” Pokémon

One of the testers mention they have only been seeing core of about 50 Pokémon total and was wondering how he might see the rest of them. They go on to explain that you’ll find more water Pokémon near water (they give SF Bay as an example), and grass Pokémon (like Rattata) near tall grass.  Essentially they say you need to explore beyond your city block and explore the world to see more Pokémon. This give more confirmations to spawn locations being terrain based.


Another tester asks if there will be harder and more rare Pokémon to catch. They touch again on the “core 50” and explain that they want to keep true to the core series and give variety on rarity and difficulty when catching Pokémon. They give Abra as an example, and that like in the core series, he’ll teleport/escape in Pokémon GO as well (making him harder to catch).


Catching Pokémon

The development focus for Pokémon GO has mainly been on the catching of Pokémon and the AR elements that tie into that as well.

Throwing the Pokéball when the circle is the smallest increases your chance to catch the Pokémon.


They also made it sound like spinning the ball quickly also helps increase your catch rate.



GO Plus

Starting off they let us know a few things we already know: The GO Plus is a Bluetooth device for Android/iOS that allows you to perform actions in the game without having to look at your smart phone. The device also notifies you of certain things in the game via LED and vibrations.


The device will flash green and vibrate when a Pokémon is nearby and you have a chance to catch it!



Push the LED button and it’ll throw a Pokéball for you and then update you as to if you caught the Pokémon or not. A rainbow flashing LED indicates a catch!



If it flashes red, your catch was unsuccessful.



They also mention that there are many opprounities to obtain items in Pokémon GO, but you can “grab them” via the device. While the method wasn’t stated, the device will likely flash a different color (blue maybe?) when near a Pokéstop, and you’ll likely be able to hack obtain the items from it via pushing the LED button.


The testers ask when it will be coming out and where they can buy it. They state it will be coming out near the end of July and will cost $34.99 USD. It’ll be available online and via certain local retailers. It’s also mentioned they will be providing a GO Plus purchase link within the app that will direct you to places to purchase in your region. Pre-order links have started floating around online, though none are working at this time.


Connectivity to the core series (3DS)

It’s asked if there will be any connection between the upcoming 3DS Sun/Moon games and Pokémon GO. They state that they want the focus of Pokémon GO to be going out and having real life adventures catching Pokémon. Eventually, they’d like to add some kind of connectivity to the core series. It’s not mentioned as to if this will be with Sun & Moon specifically, or another future core series game.



Candy, Power-ups, and Evolution

One of the testers ask for more details on how the current power up and evolution system works. They wanted to come up with a new system for the smart phone platform. Rather than participating in long battles catching Pokémon while outside, they want players to be more active, catch things quickly, and keep on moving. Every time you catch a Pokémon you get a few candies that you can use to power up or evolve your current Pokémon. As an example, you currently need 25 candies to upgrade a Squirtle to a Wartortle. The system is still being fine tuned.




A tester mentioned that they noticed the trading mechanism teased in the GO trailer has not been implemented in the field test yet and wonders if it’ll eventually be implemented. As mentioned earlier, they want players to focus on getting outside and catching Pokémon and that they’ll of course be adding this as a feature later on.



Live Events

Another question from the testers was asking about the Mewtwo event in time square and group based activities in Pokémon GO. They say there is some game play in the field test like this currently, specifically gyms, where you can group up to take them down. This may be a hint of what’s to come, and they have lots of plans on what they are going to do with bigger events. One could only guess these events will be similar to Ingress anomalies, but we’ll just have to wait and see.



Launch date

They announced last July, and joked they’ll need to obviously get the game out soon before the GO Plus comes out. So while they don’t have a solid release date, it sounds like it’ll be before August!


Closing thoughts

It was great to hear some tidbits of new information, and some details of the game talked about that sit in NDA territory. Reddit has been tearing many of the details about the field test apart and making it public, so it doesn’t feel like all information provided to us was fresh (even if it was intended to be). I was a bit disappointed in some of the questions being asked, as some of them just were regurgitating things anyone following Pokémon GO would already know. I’ll take what I can get though, and to hear it’s actually on schedule to be released this summer is amazing. Until then I shall continue my efforts in the field test and provide needed feedback to help the developers fine tune and polish this amazing adventure we are about to embark on.