Mobile video and art project developer Niantic is talking more about Pokémon Go, the first major release for the long-running monster hunter franchise that Nintendo and The Pokémon Company revealed earlier this year.
Representatives from Niantic Labs discussed the Pokémon Go release in detail in a interview published this week. People are excited about Pokémon Go because it’s described as a rebirth of the world-famous, well-selling role-playing game. Instead of tethering players to a handheld console, Pokémon Go takes place in the real world. To catch and battle Pokémon in the game players need a smartphone and a wearable accessory that allows them to interact with each other. Battles can happen at any moment. Wild Pokémon appear as players walk around their neighborhood, a trailer revealed earlier this year.
Nintendo has already confirmed a Pokémon Go release date for sometime in 2016.
Talking with Venture Beat, Niantic Labs describes the things its working on for the game and the care its taking as it brings the franchise to the iPhone and other devices. The developer says that one of its biggest concerns is making sure that Pokémon Go is a fun game for everyone in lots of different localities.
“If we’re going to build a game that works with location, it has to be fun for people anywhere to play, in small towns as well as San Francisco,” Chief Executive John Hanke says. The studio says that working on its previous game for mobile devices, Ingress, prepared it well to challenges in geographic location. To help with this, Pokémon Go players could be able to complete with people they’ve just passed using asynchronous play.
One thing the studio is ready to confirm is the length of time it hopes it takes players to discover Pokémon around them. It’s aiming for around five minutes of walking before wild Pokémon start appearing. “Our goal is to make it so you can walk out of the house and within five minutes, you can find a Pokémon. Besides wild Pokémon, there’ll be Gyms to battle at, just like in the main games on Nintendo 3DS.
Also making its way to Pokemon Go are the different types of creatures that players can collect. Niantic Labs says that the different types of creatures will be discoverable in locations that make sense. Certain types of Pokémon will be more common in areas that would logically support them. For example, water type creatures will be more common near bodies of water. Getting at different types of creatures will require players to trade with their friends.
Pokémon Go will have events for those who want to battle and trade their creatures, Niantic Labs says. For most people, the worry with Pokémon Go is that it’ll be severely limited in nature to stop it cannibalizing sales of Nintendo’s hardware. The Pokémon games are a major reason to pick up a Nintendo 3DS handheld. Hanke has something to say about that.
“This is the first time there will be a real Pokemon experience on a mobile phone.” Nintendo seems to be counting on the millions of people with smartphones in their market being enough of an incentive for Nintendo to let the studio deliver a full title, not just a companion to the other games.
The studio says that the Pokemon Go Plus accessory that it showed off with the game was necessary to keep players focused on the world around them and not their iPhone’s screen. A belt clip and bracelet allow players to wear the accessory.
In some ways, it’s unclear just how similar to the other games in the series Pokemon Go will be. For example, we don’t know if the game will have a story. We’ll certainly hear more before the Pokemon Go release date arrives.