The Pokémon GO phenomenon begun this summer. Millions downloaded the new iPhone and Android game. High interest led to a prolonged roll-out and some very, very frustrating issues earlier on. Now developer Niantic Labs is ready to start building on the platform it established with the game’s initial release. It’s starting to add in new features with Pokémon GO updates.
Already, Pokémon GO allows users to roam towns in search of Pokémon to add to their Pokedex and evolve over time. The game uses GPS tracking technology to do this. Every device’s rear-facing camera allows Pokémon to appear as if they’re near users too.
The game itself will continue to evolve over time too, giving those that get hooked new reasons to keep revisiting it over and over. Here’s what we know about new Pokémon GO updates.
Pokémon GO Features Confirmed
Sprint Becomes the Official Wireless Partner of Pokémon GO
Over the summer, leaks hinted that Niantic might decide to work with corporate sponsors on events for Pokémon GO. At the time, the company didn’t have much to say about any events or corporate partners. Now it has plenty to say, and that information includes details on a partnership with Sprint.
Sprint has been dubbed the Official U.S. Wireless Partner of Pokémon GO, according to a press release from the carrier itself. It’s stores will offer players a place to recharge their smartphones when playing the game. 10,500 Sprint, Boost Mobile and Sprint at Radio Shack stores will morph into PokeStops where players can collect in-game items. Additionally, there’ll be Sprint-sponsored Gyms for players to battle the creatures that other trainers have left behind. All of this kicks off on December 12th.
Starbucks Gets Pokémon GO PokeStops
Not to be outdone, Starbucks is opening its own PokeStops too. Beginning on December 8th, 7,800 stores in the United States will turn into either a Gym or a PokeStop. Most Starbucks stores already have plenty of wall plugs, so they’re a natural place to stop when hunting for new creatures anyway.
A press release from the company confirms that it’s rolling out the Pokémon GO Frappuccino Blended beverage. It’s a mix of Vanilla Bean, raspberry syrup and blackberries.
Pokémon GO to Get New Creatures
On December 12th, Niantic and The Pokémon Company are expected to detail new creatures and features coming to Pokémon GO in the near future. The two have confirmed that there’s announcement for that day. It’s anyone’s guess which creatures will make their debut, but most expect the company to add the creatures from Pokémon Silver and Pokémon Gold that weren’t in the original games.
Pokémon GO Features Under Consideration
Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke discussed what’s planned for the mobile game in an interview over the summer. Here’s what Hanke told Business Insider players can expect to see in future Pokémon GO updates.
Pokémon Trading is Coming for Trainers
It was nothing short of a tragedy for gamers when Niantic Labs confirmed that Pokémon GO wouldn’t allow users to trade creatures. At the time, many wrote the game off, underscoring just how essential trading is in the franchise. With other franchise games, trading is just as important as capturing creatures. In fact, every game in the series has creatures that are specific to it, forcing users to buy two copies of the game or trade with their friends to fully complete their Pokedex.
Hanke says that’s one of the biggest things that Niantic Labs has plans to address in future Pokémon GO updates. The interview doesn’t go into any detail about how trading will work or whether any mechanics will be introduced along with it. In the other games it’s pretty simple. Users swap any creature in their collection for another creature in someone else’s regardless of level and abilities. Trainers that haven’t ranked up enough to properly tame a high-level Pokémon can stash them away in a computer system for safe keeping.
The competition element is key to the franchise too, but very underrepresented in Pokémon GO. With other Pokémon games, you can battle your way to bragging rights. Right now, you have to settle for battling the creatures that players leave behind at their Team’s Gyms.
With one of its future Pokémon GO updates, Niantic Labs plans to implement a system for tracking who’s doing better in the game. The scores will be represented in Leaderboards, though Hanke doesn’t go into any detail about what statistics the company will track.
Improved PokeStops and Gyms
According to Hanke, the Gyms and PokeStops that players visit today aren’t close to what the company has envisioned for the future.
Coming sometime in the future is the ability to “customize their functions in other ways,” The CEO says. Today, PokeStops are a free way to collect Eggs and the Poke Balls that players need to go out and capture more Pokémon for their collection. Users simply head to the landmarks and spin the center of a stylized Pokémon logo with a picture of the landmark inside.
Better Augmented Reality Capabilities
Lastly, users can expect improvements in Pokémon GO’s most signature mechanic, its ability to overlay characters around users in real-world locations. The game makes it look like you’re in the same room as a Pokémon using your device’s camera and compass.
Niantic is working to improve the game’s real-world overlays with future Pokémon GO updates, but we’re unsure of what these improvements will include. The game already forces players to look around them and find the creatures they’re trying to capture. Only by moving your phone around the area can you spot the creatures. Once found, users need to fling PokeBalls at them to complete the capture. Right now, this functionality is optional.
Niantic plans to keep updating Pokémon GO with new features and events on a regular basis going forward.
PokeStops & Gym Locations
A recent question and answer session on the Silph Road confirms that Pokémon Go currently uses 30% to 50% of portals that were present in Niantic’s last game, Ingress. Pokémon Go maps these over real-world landmarks that players have to walk to.
PokeStops and Gyms are real-world locations that players go to pick up items and battle the creatures left behind by other trainers. Police departments are already warning players of the game to stay away from their stations, according to VG247.