So Pokemon GO is looking pretty exciting, no? Even though we don't yet have a solid release date for the upcoming augmented reality mobile game it doesn't mean there isn't a hell of a lot of excitement being kicked up around it, not least of all what we've heard about it from the developers themselves.
A mobile game for iOS and Android, Pokémon GO allows players to interact with virtual Pokémon in real world surroundings. The launch trailer (below) landed a few months back and was met with universal excitement; it's certainly impressive to look at, especially for those who grew up alongside the evolution of the Pokémon games and spent childhoods longing for something like this.
Augmented reality Pokémon. It sounds pretty cool right? Involving a direct or indirect image of the real world in which certain elements are augmented (altered) by computer generated input such as images or sound, AR technology is commonly used with GPS location information, as is the case with Pokémon GO.
Pokémon GO is being developed by Google start up Niantic Inc, and Niantic CEO John Hanke gave a recent expansive interview to Venture Beat where he spoke a little about what we can expect from the upcoming game which - according to Hanke - "can be bigger than World of Warcraft".
Bigger Than Warcraft?
It makes sense really, when you think about it. As Hanke points out more people in the world own mobile devices than computers, and the portability of mobile gaming and the enduring presence of the Pokémon franchise gives them a much wider audience to appeal to.
But Pokémon GO isn't Niantic's first rodeo, they're building off their hugely successful Ingress framework - the first location based augmented reality mobile game that really works. As Mike Quigley, Niantic's Chief Marketing Officer, says "we’re trying to build a genre from the ground up", and they're certainly making waves in the market if the hype for Pokémon GO is anything to go by.
Niantic On The Rise
Japan in particular has provided an excellent market for Pokémon GO's predecessor Ingress, according to Hanke:
"The awareness of Ingress in Japan is huge. This award here is from the Tokyo Game Show. It’s the designer’s grand prize. There are two grand prizes awarded at the Tokyo Game Show. This one is voted on by everyone in the industry. They picked Ingress as the winner for this year."
And it turns out that Nintendo and The Pokémon Company weren't the first to approach the start-up about using their game framework; many different Japan-based companies had approached Niantic before Pokémon GO was realised, all wanting to build a game on top of the Ingress engine.
But now that Pokémon GO has been announced for both an Eastern and Western release that's all set to change as big businesses in the US and Europe start taking note of this ambitious little company - which only comprises of 41 employees - who are heading up the big project.
The future of Niantic will depend largely on the success of Pokémon GO, but with what we've seen so far from Ingress and The Pokémon Company, how can they fail?
Now all we need is a release date and we're set...