First Look at Pokémon GO Gameplay at SXSW!

Sorry GDC, looks like SXSW gets the big first look at Pokemon GO gameplay. John Hanke surprised us just a day ago announcing he was doing a panel at SXSW titled “The Future of AR Is Already in Your Pocket”.


A video on reddit emerged today, capturing what claimed to be footage of Pokemon GO at the SXSW panel.

Skeptical on the authenticity of this, I started asking around but couldn’t get a solid answer as to if this was actually legit or not. Reddit saved the day again and posted a picture of John Hanke with a clip from the above footage that surfaced.


Transcription of footage (as best I could):

“They’re distributed all around the world. Pokemon have different habitats, so some Pokemon like water, some like mountains. They live in the places they ought to live, which means that you will have to go to a wide variety of places to find them all. This encounter I’m gonna show you is also the first time this has been shown. You’ll get notified that you’ve encountered a Pokemon, and you can capture it with your Poke ball, so you toss Poke balls to capture it. It got away, so my throw wasn’t good enough or my ball wasn’t strong enough. So we’re gonna go for a more powerful Poke ball. So he goes into my Pokedex, and there’s other stuff you can do…”



Aside from the video above, Agent @fleshy was able to get us some additional shots from the panel! Lets look at the obvious first.


Right off the bat we see:

  • Trainer on a map of current location in 3D third person perspective.
  • Trainer avatar.
  • Level.
  • Trainer name.
  • Poke ball button (unsure of its function).



Other things we noticed:

  • Some kinda of red location or cross road marking.
  • A  Pokemon (Squirtle).
  • Two different sets of locations markers. Some assumptions here, but I think these are Forts (as we noticed from the initial trailer video). My other assumption is that the blue markers in the background are out of range or un-selected Forts, and that the larger Poke ball looking marker in the front is one that is in range/selected. The Pokemon here could be defending that location, or maybe these aren’t Forts at all and just locations of where Pokemon have spawned? Time will tell.
  • Also in the upper right is the all too familiar compass icon, which we also see in Ingress.


A clip from the video shows us the above mentioned, another Pokemon (Ivysaur), and another trainer at a higher level. I didn’t mention the bottom left area of the GUI in the other shots because I couldn’t make out what they were. In this shot though, it looks like three Ivysaur icons. Unsure of what this could be, other than perhaps Pokemon that the trainer is currently carrying (guess she is farming them or something).



Another shot from Agent @fleshy shows a rotating picture for Lotta’s Fountain, which I venture to guess is a Fort. Money says this is a portal in Ingress as well (likely where most Fort and other location data will come from). Nathan VanGraafeiland was kind enough to link the Ingress portal that matches the picture seen here exactly. This is the first time we see actual Ingress data used in Pokemon GO, and just confirms the speculation that Ingress portal data will be used for Forts/locations.


When it is battle time, it switched from the 3D game to the trainers phone camera, showing the real world with a 3D Pokemon overlaid onto it. Though some folks are drinking their Hatorade over it, I think its neat Niantic is exploring other parts of augmented reality gaming.


Shortly after the wild Ivysaur appears, we see “CP 535” next to it. There is some speculation on Reddit as to what this means. So far I’ve seen “Crystal Points” (more on that below) and “Capture Points” mentioned, but I have another for you. A quick search on Google lead me to a page on the Pokemon website mentioning “Champion Points”. Now this isn’t related to GO (yet?), but check out the first paragraph from the webpage:

“Championship Points are awarded to players based on their finish position or placement at individual events. Championship Points are used to gain entry into high-level events, including the annual Pokémon World Championships. Event qualifications are listed on each event-specific page as it is posted.”

What if capturing Pokemon gained you points towards being able to compete in local or world events? A “kid” can dream right? Also noticed in this clip is a Poke ball which I think you tap or swipe to throw at the Pokemon. There is a photo looking icon in the lower right that is assumed to be for taking screenshots, as well as a repository of pictures that you’ve taken of the specific Pokemon you are battling. Lastly we notice a backpack icon which we’re certain is for inventory/items.


First Poke ball thrown is a miss.


Second Poke ball almost captures the Ivysaur, but it breaks free.


Here we see a first peak at the actual Item menu! Here we see the standard Poke Ball, Great Ball, Ultra Ball, and Master Ball, all items we’ve seen in previous Pokemon games. Also note the recycle icon for each ball. Waiting for a better shot of the flavor text before I add a transcription.


A swap to the Master Ball yields a easy capture.


We are awards XP (experience points) for the “Pokemon Capture”, and “Nice/New Throw?” Hard to read that last part.


Following the XP screen we are shown another summary like screen for the capture:

  • 535 CP listed again.
  • Pokemon name, Ivysaur.
  • Hit points, 94/94 HP.
  • Pokemon type, Grass/Poison.
  • Unsure what the 3 faded looking balls and numbers 3.46 and 0.63 are representing. Attempts and rates?
  • Finally we see Crystals. You got me here, I have no idea on this one. Best guess I’ve heard is currency.


Final thoughts

There we have it, after a drought of close to no new information we finally have something! While its not exactly what I expected and is just a tiny clip, I am still very excited for the coming months and new information we’ll gleam from the field/beta test in Japan. They mentioned this field test WILL influence the direction and final release version, so if you make it into the coming field tests/beta, be loud and clear to Niantic on what you like and dislike. its our time to help shape this next AR adventure from Niantic, Nintendo, and The Pokemon Company. Good luck out there, and till next time Trainers.