John Hanke of Niantic Labs got the chance to talk about “Pokémon Go” this Tuesday at TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF 2016, and he revealed a lot of interesting things that fans should watch out for when future updates arrive.
Asked how Niantic Labs and The Pokémon Go team plan on making the game exciting and interesting for fans to patronize it long-term, Hanke revealed that just like what his team does with Niantic's 5-year-old game, "Ingress," they are also looking into adding new features to the very successful Android and iOS gaming app.
Hanke shared that the core idea for "Pokémon Go" and "Ingress" was based on the vision of creating a massively multiplayer game, where players can all be in the same gaming environment and socialize with each other while enjoying the gaming experience.
"It’s really about multiplayer and social aspects of the game that we’re counting on to keep the game alive, vibrant and growing for a number of years into the future," Hanke told event moderator Greg Kumaprak.
Another thing that fans should watch out for is the addition of PvP battles. Hanke said that they talk about this feature a lot and it will surely make its way into the game's roadmap, but he does not have a specific date to divulge yet.
When Kumaparak asked Hanke if the smartwatch support for "Pokémon Go" is exclusive to the Apple Watch, the latter responded by saying that they are planning to support other devices soon. He even quipped that it's pretty likely for the game to come to Android Wear.
Hanke was also asked if they are indeed planning to add more Pokémon into the game, and he said that they intend to gradually introduce more generations of Pokémon because "it's a natural way to keep the game fresh." He added that they are looking into introducing new Pokémon and having events where they can be showcased because these two go really well.
The idea of holding events is actually based on what Niantic Labs is doing with "Ingress." Hanke said that these big events are "part competitive, part social and part 'just for fun,'" making the gaming experience more enjoyable and solidifying the user base of "Ingress" — something which they also plan to do with the loyal fans of "Pokémon Go."
Hanke's revelations come amid the official launch of the new "Pokémon Go" update that introduces the Buddy System to players. The system enables users to designate a specific Pokémon as the Buddy Pokémon who will walk with the Trainer and unlock special treats, just like the Pokémon Candy, for Pokémon Trainers to use.
Speaking of the new Buddy System, Hanke said that it basically gives players the chance to show off their favorite Pokémon and get benefits from walking with them in the augmented reality game.
The “Pokémon Go” update — which is version 0.37.0 for Android and version 1.7.0 for iOS — is already out, and Wired reports that players will now get to choose their Buddy Pokémon based on the list of their caught Pokémon. In addition, the site states that each Buddy Pokémon has a specific distance requirement to cover just to obtain Candy.
Aside from the Buddy System, the “Pokémon Go” update reportedly comes with support for Pokémon Go Plus, the wearable (arriving on Friday) that connects to the game via Bluetooth and alerts players when a Pokémon or a Pokéstop is nearby, so players do not need to glue their eyes on to their smartphone screens while playing the game.