Could 2016 be the year Pokemon dominates the geolocation game space? If Nintendo have their way, it very well could be.
Nintendo and the Pokemon Company have teamed up with Niantic Inc to announce that they intend to release the first Pokemon Geolocation game next year. Called Pokemon Go, the game will be available free of charge for Android and iPhone mobile devices, although Nintendo does warn that there will be the dreaded in-app transactions.
The Pokemon franchise began life as a videogame for the Ninetendo Game Boy back in 1996 and has since spawned a number of sequels, comic books and movies. However the Pokemon Go augmented reality app would be a new departure for the franchise.
Details on the actual game are still very minimal, although a video has been released that show people navigating around in the real world, using GPS to find and then capture virtual Pokemon using their phone as an augmented reality device. You can check it out below. This resembles the storyline of Pokemon where trainers travel the world, using devices called Pokeballs to capture wild Pokemon that can then be trained and used in fights against other trainers and their Pokemon. Likewise, Pokemon Go Players will be able to capture, trade and battle alongside, or against, other players.
Those who might feel a little sceptical about the chance this has for success needs to take a closer look at the participation of Niantic. Founded by John Hanke , the former head of Google Maps and Earth, Niantic Labs was only recently spun off from parent company, Google. Niantic are the experts behind the hugely successful augmented reality mobile game, Ingress, which sees players travelling to real world locations to capture nodes for their team’s faction. With 12 million downloads worldwide, an active storyline, and regular trans-continental events held regularly across the world, they have already established a track record which makes their involvement in the Nintendo project all that more exciting.
“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.”
Players will be able to further enhance their game play with a wearable device called the Pokemon Go Plus. Resembling one of the Pokeballs that trainers use to capture Pokemon, this wrist-wearable device connects to your phone via Bluetooth. Users will be notified of important events nearby by the device flashing and vibrating. By pressing a button, simple actions like catching a Pokemon can be performed. Developed and manufactured by Nintendo it’s likely the device will prove a solid addition to the game. No pricing or firm release date has been released other than to say the game is coming in 2016.
“Our challenge was to develop a great game for smartphone 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.”
As one of the largest entertainment brands in the world with strong brand recognition amongst children and young parents, coupled with a low cost of entry, it’s likely that Pokemon Go will attract a lot of attention when it releases next year.