Nintendo and The Pokémon Company, which owns and operates the popular playing card and video game series, just announced Pokémon GO, an alternate reality mobile game made in collaboration with Niantic, the previously Google-owned developer that operates the AR game Ingress.
Like other games in the series, Pokémon GO lets players catch, trade, and battle Pokémon, but asks them to go out into the real world with their smartphones in order to do so, just as Ingress asked players to go to real locations to control portals. The Pokémon Company didn't give out too many details yet, but judging by the trailer released alongside the announcement and what we know about Ingress, players will have to go to specific locations in the world and interact with other people via their smartphones for certain interactions.
Players will also be able to use a special device with the game called the Pokémon GO Plus. You can wear the small, Pokéball-shaped device on your wrist, and use it to perform simple actions like catching Pokémon by simply pressing a button.
"Pokémon GO is a wonderful combination of Niantic's real world gaming platform and one of the most beloved franchises in popular culture," founder and CEO of Niantic John Hanke said. "Our partnership with The Pokémon Company and Nintendo is an exciting step forward in real-world gaming and using technology to help players discover the world and people around them."
Junichi Masuda, game director of the Pokémon video game series at developer Game Freak, will contribute to the project as well.
This sounds like the biggest project The Pokémon Company has ever developed for smartphones and is the first Nintendo mobile game we have any real details about. However, according to Tokyo-based games industry analyst Serkan Toto, Pokémon GO is not one of the first five mobile games Nintendo announced it will develop earlier this year.
I'm not a huge mobile game fan or big Ingress player, but this collaboration sounds like an incredibly smart and fun game. It's almost too good to be true, which is highlighted by the fact that the same concept for Pokémon GO was the subject of a Google April Fools' Day joke in 2014.