Pokémon Go's developer reveals what's coming next

By Hayley Tsukayama

Niantic will add new features including the the ability to trade Pokemon critters between players. Photo / Paul Taylor
Niantic will add new features including the the ability to trade Pokemon critters between players. Photo / Paul Taylor

Pokémon Go may be taking the world by storm, but that doesn't mean it's resting on its laurels.

John Hanke, the CEO of the hit game's developer, told an audience at a comics convention over the weekend that the game will evolve over time. In fact, he said, the company has only put in "probably a tenth" of the features that it had imagined into the game so far.

His conversation with late-night host Chris Hardwick at San Diego's Comic-Con revealed a few key details that should please Pokémon Go fans. One of the first features his company, Niantic, will add to the game is the ability to trade the little critters between players.

The company also plans to make Poké Stops and Gyms more versatile, perhaps having them function more like Poké Centers in the traditional games, where users can manage and heal their Pokémon.

Players should also expect that very rare or legendary Pokémon will appear in the game during special events - events that may be similar to those Niantic holds for its other game, Ingress.

Those game-related gatherings, staged at cities around the world, have drawn crowds of thousands of players together.

Hanke also revealed more immediate updates. For example, each of the three player factions has its own leader, and players soon will interact with those leaders as characters in the game.

Team Mystic players will follow the lead of Blanche; Team Valor players will take orders from Candela; and Team Instinct players will look to Spark.

During the interview, Hanke also officially confirmed a player theory that certain nicknames for an Eevee - a fox-like critter that can change into one of three other animals in the game - let players control what its evolution will be. And there are more little tricks to the game that the developers purposefully left hidden for fans to discover, he said.

Hanke's visit to Comic-Con comes as his company revels in the success of the augmented reality game. Apple confirmed that Pokemon Go, which was released July 6 in the United States, broke the record for most downloads in its first week.

The fast success of Pokémon Go has been so extraordinary that it managed to send the shares of Nintendo up as much as 60 per cent since its release, despite the fact that Nintendo itself does not actually make the mobile game.

Nintendo has a minority stake in The Pokémon Company, which co-developed the title with Niantic.

We have to kind of make sure the servers are going to stay up.

Shares plummeted again Monday after Nintendo clarified that its arrangement meant the firm was not, in fact, going to see that much Pokémon Go money.

For Niantic, the overwhelming response to Pokémon Go caught the company off-guard and caused a few hiccups. The game developer hadn't prepared the technology it uses to run the game for such a surge of popularity.

"The servers just got bombarded," Hanke said.

The executive fielded questions and a few complaints during the talk. He said that the firm is focused heavily on fixing bugs and keeping the game up and running as it rolls out to more countries.

But, Hanke said, Niantic's first priority before the rollout of the new features is making sure that its current game stays stable.

"Don't get too excited," he cautioned. "We have to kind of make sure the servers are going to stay up."

- Washington Post

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