Pokémon GO – A New Niantic Labs Adventure

Before I dive into this surprise announcement from Nintendo/The Pokémon Company/Niantic Labs, I want to give a nod to Niantic’s Joe Philley who passed away yesterday evening. Please see the Joe Philley Tribute event and Rest in Peace, JP community for more. See You space cowboy…


If you haven’t watched the Pokémon GO announcement trailer yet, turn up your sound and watch it right now.

HOLY SH*T! I should have put the pieces together sooner. With Nintendo diving more into the mobile market and John Hanke‘s frequent trips to Japan, we should have seen something like this coming. Who could have ever guessed he was working with Nintendo & The Pokémon Company outside talks with Softbank and other Japanese partners.


What do we know so far about Pokémon GO?

GEO-based game like Ingress

For those unfamiliar with Ingress, the start of the video explains it perfectly: “IMAGINE POKÉMON IN THE REAL WORLD“. You use your smartphones GPS to “walk” around the real world and play an augmented reality game.


Our first look at the app icon, a nice standard Poké Ball.


Wild Pokémon 233m that direction (Looks like a Pikachu)


You catch Pokémon

No surprise here, Pokémon has always been about catching new Pokémon (GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL).

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Select your Poké Ball from your inventory.

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Catch that Pokémon!


You can trade your Pokémon with other players (trainers)


Connect your devices…


Trade 1 for 1 with other players. Awesome!


You can battle with other players

So far we are shown a 1v1 battle and a 3v3 team battle. Right now we can only speculate if there is a 2v2 team battle or any team battles exceeding 3v3.


Fierce 3v3 Pokémon battle in the park



That’s right, I said it. There will be timed based raids in Pokémon GO! You will group with a large group of people to down a single foe. This seems to be inspired by MMORPG style group raids and Ingress anomalies.


A level 70 Mewtwo has appeared in Time Square and you have 10 minutes to defeat it!



Raid joined! Undetermined if everyone gets the same Pokémon for winning or what the size of a raid can be. I want to assume that everyone catches the Pokémon defeated in the raid though.


A few in-game shots are shown

All the CGI footage looks neat in the trailer, but what does the game look like? We’re shown two clips with a valley/forest background showing Charizard and Pikachu.


Awesome, but not enough to get a true feel for how the game will actually look and play on your device.


Release date

All we know is that it’ll be coming out in 2016. We know how Niantic can be with release dates though (cough Endgame cough), so we’ll just have to be patient and wait.


Cross platform

iOS and Android will both be able to play Pokémon GO!


Free app with In-app purchases

I’m sure there will be balance and thought put into in-app purchases, but it does scare me that it may end up turning into a pay to win game. We’ll see how they handle this one, and it is very exciting news that this game will be free for anyone wanting to get involved and at try it out.


The Pokémon GO Plus device

This little device connects to your smartphone via bluetooth and let you perform actions in the game, such as catching a Pokémon. The GO Plus device will also notify players about events (by vibrating and blinking LED in the center), like when a Pokémon is nearby! Very similar to the smart watch interaction with Ingress.


A few words from our partnered CEO’s

“Our challenge was to develop a great game for smart phone devices that expressed the core values of Pokémon,” said Tsunekazu Ishihara, president and CEO of The Pokémon Company. “Pokémon GO is the answer to that challenge.”

“Pokémon GO is a wonderful combination of Niantic’s real world gaming platform and one of the most beloved franchises in popular culture,” said John Hanke, founder and CEO of Niantic, Inc. “Our partnership with The Pokémon Company and Nintendo is an exciting step forward in real-world gaming and using technology to help players discover the world and people around them.”

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The timing with Joe passing is a little awkward, and the Pokémon franchise may not resonate with all of Niantic’s Ingress player base. For those that are Pokémon fans, all I gotta say is…