For the first few months that Pokémon Go was out, it seemed like Niantic Labs was focusing on updating the AR game, but not in the ways users wanted. We’d get minor bug fixes and a new feature here and there, but nothing that really changed the gameplay experience for the better.
Now, the game developer seems to be more on top of things, and has been releasing a steady stream of updates that truly bring value to the game. For instance, Niantic just recently added 80 new Pokémon, as well as a night mode map, new berries and new encounter mechanics. Those 80 new Pokémon consisted of all Generation 2 monsters, but unfortunately no legendary Pokémon. Thankfully, that’s changing before the end of the year.
Niantic CEO John Hanke was recently asked about the possibility of bringing fan-favorites like Mewtwo, Mew and the three legendary birds in an interview with Wired’s German division. “I can say with certainty that we will see more of that this year,” Hanke said. You heard that right – Pokémon Go will likely get Mewtwo, Mew, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres by the end of 2017!
That’s not all Hanke talked about in the interview. When asked about the second major update coming to the game this year, Hanke said much of the focus is being put on playing with other trainers and gym battles:
There are a couple of areas that need to be improved – one of them being playing together and gym battles. We released those in an incomplete state. We knew from Ingress that cooperation and planning can be a lot of fun. When people have a common goal, then that’s a strong incentive to meet up with friends or even with people you don’t know.
The gameplay in gym battles is very limited. They just don’t work as well as we wish they would. We will overhaul this aspect of the game to ensure more teamwork and to give people a bigger incentive to receive the rewards from gym battles.
Cheating is also a big problem in Pokémon Go, and Hanke says Niantic is trying its hardest to get it under control. If case you didn’t know, some trainers have been using special applications to trick their GPS so they can play from home.
I don’t think it’s the user’s fault when an app or a website offers him a shortcut. It’s our responsibility to prevent those things or to not make them harder than they currently are. I wish they wouldn’t do it. Through cheating, they’re not allowing themselves to experience the game to its fullest. The reward of Pokemon GO is being active and getting to see places you normally wouldn’t see.
One other interesting tidbit from the interview – Hanke comments on why Niantic launched the game with an arguably lacking feature set. He said:
When we left Google, we had a limited amount of money, a funding of 35 million dollars. We had a fairly large team and a relatively short amount of time. We worked a long time on it and eventually that just exhausts people. We felt it was time to get noticed.
Interested in playing Pokémon Go? Head to the Google Play link below to grab the latest version!
Three major updates are headed our way
March 2: John Hanke, the Niantic Labs CEO, has stated that three major updates are headed to Pokémon Go in 2017. While details on the updates are scarce, Hanke says an update will arrive every quarter.
80 new Pokémon added
February 17: Pokémon Go version 0.57.2 is now rolling out. The update introduces a night mode map, new berries, new encounter mechanics and — what we’ve all been waiting for — 80 new Pokémon!
Togepi and Pichu come to Pokémon Go
December 12: While it’s not a huge update, Niantic Labs has added Togepi, Pichu and a handful of other creatures to the game. In addition, the developer kicked off an in-game holiday event that would see Pikachu wearing a festive hat through the end of December.
Combining Nearby and Sightings
December 10: Niantic has issued an update to Pokémon Go, which changes Nearby’s mechanics and brings Sightings back to work in tandem with Nearby. Both features have now been rolled out to “most regions of the world”.
Pokémon Go/Starbucks collaboration
December 8: Niantic has announced a new collaboration with America’s favorite(?) coffee shop, turning 7,800 Starbucks locations into either PokéStops or Gyms.