Video game developer Niantic Labs has some bad news for anyone that expected to learn more about the Pokémon Go release when this month’s Games Developers Conference kicks off. Officially, the in-depth look into the coming Android and iPhone game has been cancelled.
News of the Pokémon Go session at GDC 2016 being cancelled spread this morning in news reports and media outlets after the site detailing the session revealed the cancellation. Developed in partnership with the Pokémon Company, Pokémon Go is a role-playing game in the same way that all of the main titles in the franchise are. It’s different from other games in that it relies on players walking around in the real world to capture and battle creatures. Niantic Labs’ last game was Ingress, a game that pioneered real-world, location-based gameplay.
“Catch ‘Em All: Pokémon Go and Real World Gaming” was set for Monday, March 14th. During the half-hour presentation, Niantic’s John Hanke was to walk session attendees through the process of creating the game. Takaways were to include a “first-hand, in-depth look at how players are interacting and exploring the world with one another through Pokémon Go.” There were to be discussions about augmented reality and the promise of “real-world mobile gameplay.”
The page that detailed that description back in January hasn’t been taken down or changed. Instead, “Cancelled” is now part of the session’s title. The GDC website doesn’t reveal why the session was cancelled, leaving those that were excited for it to speculate about what happened.
For its part, Niantic Labs hasn’t publicly acknowledged the session’s cancellation. It hasn’t said that Pokémon Go is cancelled either, though some are interpreting the missed session as a sign that something has gone wrong with the game’s development.
There doesn’t seem to be a backlash from fans as some sites have reported. Mostly, it seems fans simply want to hear the Pokémon Go release date mentioned so that they know when to expect it. Nintendo, Pokémon Company and Niantic all announced Pokémon Go back in September. Since that announcement, Niantic has only gone on record about the game once. It did so in a longform interview confirming purchases, region-specific Pokémon and a few other details.
The Pokémon Company and Nintendo have only provided details about the game’s release once. That confirmation included how the game’s launch will work. The Pokémon Go release date won’t be a worldwide affair. Instead, the game will roll out to the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store in specific regions first before expanding worldwide. That makes sense given the amount of online services that’ll need to power a game like the one Niantic has described.
It’s because of these comments that we know that Nintendo and Niantic Labs planned to launch Pokémon Go sometime within the 2016 calendar year as recently as last month.
Though the Pokémon Go release date hasn’t been revealed and this session is cancelled, there’s still plenty of Pokémon related things to get excited about in the near term. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise for Nintendo handhelds. Late last week Nintendo celebrated by re-releasing Pokémon Yellow, Pokémon Blue and Pokémon Red for its Nintendo 3DS gaming system. It also rolled out a special edition Nintendo 3DS handheld that includes two of the games. The company announced Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon for Nintendo 3DS in a special Nintendo Direct video stream.
Today, Nintendo is back with yet another Nintendo Direct stream. It’s expected to talk about new games and features coming to the Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo 3DS over the spring and early summer.