John Hanke, CEO of Niantic, teased three major updates for Pokemon Go coming up this year. He didn’t release many details about them but dropped a few hints. The mobile game has become the most successful in the history of the medium, having been downloaded 650 million times and making north of $600 million in revenue. The announcement was made at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where John Hanke took no questions from the audience about the upcoming features.
The game had been updated a few weeks ago with “Generation 2”, adding 80 new Pokemon to the roster but there was still no ability to trade the little pocket monsters. Two more updates are scheduled for this year. The most likely candidates are PvP battle and a new gym system. If the updates are spaced out and leaving people hankering for more, they could be released 2-3 months apart. So we can expect an update each quarter. So the earliest update could be in May.
The game has been a resounding success with players having walked 8.7 billion kilometres to catch over 88 billion Pokemon (that’s around 44 petabytes of data). Many locations around the world like Starbucks and Sprint stores have paid to become sponsored spots to catch Pokemon and have received 500 million visitors as a result.
Trading Pokemon May Not Be As Easy As Once Thought
Trading Pokemon has been a standard feature of the Pokemon games ever since Red, Blue and Green were first released. The ability to trade and increase your roster was one of the features, hence the tagline, Gotta catch ’em all. However, the update regarding trading, though surely in the works, will not work as planned. Polygon spoke with Tatsuo Nomura, senior Product manager for the game and he said: “[Trading] won’t be through the internet.”
He elaborated, saying that if you’re a hundred miles from your target no trading will be allowed. The person needs to be in your proximity. Now people may be soured by this revelation but remember, Pokemon Go got millions of people around the world to get off their behinds and walk and stroll and observe the world around them. If an update to trade Pokemon was restricted to the internet, it would make couch potatoes out of them again.
It’s keeping with the philosophy of the game and the franchise as a whole. Pokemon is about exploring the world and relationships as a whole, it doesn’t involve sitting on the couch all day.