The most well-known augmented reality smartphone game will soon be better than ever. As was previously announced at WWDC, Pokémon GO is adopting Apple’s ARKit framework to provide a more true-to-life AR experience. The Pokémon GO website announced that this update, featuring what the post dubs ‘AR+’, is launching very soon.
AR+ will not only make Pokémon appear more accurately in space, but it also brings enhancements to actual gameplay. Because the game will be able to better measure distance and placement of objects, each Pokémon found in the wild will now have an awareness meter. The meter fills up as Pokémon grow more aware of your looming presence, and if the meter fills up completely, the Pokémon will run away. But if you sneak up carefully, not only will you prevent the Pokémon from fleeing, but you’ll earn some nice perks: an Expert Handler bonus that increases the amount of XP and Stardust you receive, and a better chance at earning Great and Excellent Throw bonuses. These additions are a clever way of using ARKit to not only improve the realism of the game’s visuals, but its mechanics too.
One either nice perk of AR+ is that, as a side benefit of being fixed to a precise point in space, Pokémon will display in an accurate scale, so you can walk up and see just how big or small a Pokémon truly is.
While Pokémon GO’s days as a worldwide phenomenon are over (at least for now), the game continues to receive important updates, and the adoption of ARKit appears to be a key one. The update’s exact release timeline is unclear, but by all indications it’s imminent.
One year ago Pokémon GO launched and quickly became a phenomenon. In celebration of that anniversary, the game’s makers at Niantic announced that starting today a special Pikachu wearing Ash’s hat will begin appearing across the world for catching. It will disappear after July 24, so trainers will need to act quickly if they don’t want to miss out.
Also marking the first year of Pokémon GO’s life, The Verge’s Andrew Webster interviewed Niantic CEO John Hanke. One of the more interesting points from the interview centers on how the overwhelming success of the game early on altered the team’s plans for growing and expanding the user experience through new features. Hanke says:
We lost probably six months on our schedule because of the success of the game. Really all the way through November and December, from launch onward we were rebuilding and rewiring infrastructure just to keep the game running at the scale that we were running at. We were fortunate to have a massive launch, a massive success, and many, many more users than we had planned for. But we had to redirect a substantial portion of the engineering team to [work on] infrastructure versus new features. That switched off things like extending gyms, it pushed out things we still want to have, like player-versus-player and trading.
Hanke reiterates that both trading and player-versus-player battles are still in the works, but he gave no timetable for their release.
Despite Pokémon GO having nowhere near the number of users it once did, Niantic has still had its hands full this summer. They launched a significant update to the game just last month, introducing Raid Battles and new Gym features. And there are several major public events in the works, including one in Chicago on July 22 and others in parts of Europe and Japan.
Niantic announced a major update to Pokémon GO today, including new gym gameplay mechanics and a feature called Raid Battle. Gym gameplay has been modified with a focus on how gyms are defended by controlling teams. Each gym will have six permanent slots, each of which must be populated by a different Pokémon.
Niantic is adding a new motivation system too. Over time and the course of battles, Pokémon will lose motivation, making them easier to defeat by rival trainers. Pokémon that lose all of their motivation will leave the gym and be returned to their trainers the next time they are defeated in battle. To maintain motivation, teams that control a gym can feed their Pokémon Berries, which should increase player interaction with the game.
Niantic announced a big update to its hit game Pokémon Go. Later this week, more than 80 Pokémon from the Johto compendium will appear in the game. That’s not all the generation two Pokémon, but it is nonetheless a substantial update to a game that has seen bug fixes and refinements, but limited new content since it debuted last summer.
In addition to adding a subset of Pokémon from the franchise’s Gold and Silver games, Niantic is adding new game elements including two new collectable berries, new Pokémon trainer outfits, and evolution items. Other items will be available for purchase from the in-game Pokémon Go shop.
Pokémon Go became an instant phenomenon in many parts of the world when it launched last year, but its popularity has waned substantially. It will be interesting to see if the new content released this week will reignite interest in the game.
Niantic, maker of Pokémon Go, released an Apple Watch companion app for its popular iOS game today. According to Niantic the Apple Watch app lets players:
• Log each play session as a workout, with gameplay counting toward personal Activity rings
• Receive notifications about nearby Pokémon
• Count distance toward hatching Pokémon Eggs and receiving Candy with your Buddy Pokémon
• Receive notifications about PokéStops nearby and collect items from them
• Receive notifications when Eggs hatch and medals are awarded
The Pokémon Go watchOS app, which is available as part of a free update to the game, was first announced at Apple’s September iPhone event by Niantic CEO, John Hanke.
It’s not a surprise that Pokémon GO is a huge hit. All you need to do is walk around any major city or look at the photos of people mobbing spaces like New York’s Central Park to get a sense for just how big the game is. But, today Apple confirmed to The Loop that Pokémon GO is just as big, and perhaps even bigger, than people thought:
Apple told me today that the game has set a new App Store record with more downloads in its first week than any other app in history. That is impressive.
Even more impressive is that for that first week, Pokémon GO was only available in the US, Australia, and New Zealand.
There have been a lot of big games on the App Store. Angry Birds, Clash of Clans, and Candy Crush come immediately to mind, but Pokémon GO feels different. Pokémon GO has captivated the world in a way that no one has seen before. It’s easy to dismiss the game as a waste of time and productivity, but that’s short-sighted. Sure, Pokémon GO is just a game, but it’s a game that has gotten people outdoors and brought them together with other Pokémon players – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Pokémon GO launched last week, and it has quickly captured the attention of millions who are now playing the augmented reality game created by Niantic in collaboration with The Pokémon Company (which is partially owned by Nintendo). After launching in Australia, New Zealand and the United States, the staggering popularity of the game appeared to catch Niantic off-guard, which had to make the decision to temporarily pause the international rollout. However, there are reports today that the game’s European and Asian rollout will commence “within a few days”.
Despite the limited geographical rollout thus far, Pokémon GO has been a huge early success in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Across almost every publically accessible metric, across iOS and Android, the game has done incredibly well. Most notably, Pokémon GO has been the number 1 free app and number 1 top grossing app on the iOS App Store essentially since it launched.
It is early days, but given the quite spectacular launch that Pokémon GO has experienced, here’s an infographic that attempts to capture its early success.