To the delight of investors, Pokémon Go has become a huge, revenue-generating hit for Nintendo, Niantic, and the Pokémon Company. Launched on Android and iOS on July 6, 2016, the game increased The Pokémon Company’s profits by nearly 2,600 percent and generated $1 billion in revenue by February. The monster hit does not show any signs of slowing either, as Niantic is apparently cooking up new features for the game’s first anniversary next month.
In a recent interview, Niantic’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Mathieu de Fayet confirmed that Pokémon Go will soon support player-versus-player (PvP) battles. It is a feature many players have requested since the beginning and will finally arrive this summer for Pokémon trainers located in the northern hemisphere. He also said that the update will bring more value “to the choice of the teams.”
He also confirmed that legendary Pokémon are coming to the game as well. He did not elaborate on the info but there are at least seven generations of legendary Pokémon to date, including the seven that reside in Alola via Pokémon Sun and Moon: Cosmog, Cosmoem, Solgaleo, Lunala, Necrozma, Magearna, and Marshadow.
In the same breath, de Fayet also briefly mentioned the social aspects of Pokémon Go. “One thing we learned with Ingress was that the game can sustain itself if we are able to create social interactions amongst players, and we are working on that,” he said.
Niantic is currently working with organizations and cities to conduct sponsored, public “block parties” where the Pokémon Go community can locally come together and chase down virtual pocket monsters. This includes closing city streets so that trainers and drivers alike are not running into each other. The first of these events took place in Charlotte, North Carolina, in early May consisting of 16 PokéStops and two gyms along a 2.5-mile stretch.
Since Pokémon Go’s first appearance on Google Play and Apple’s App Store, players have downloaded the game 650 million times and it currently enjoys 65 million active users. De Fayet indicated that PvP and legendary Pokémon were on the table long ago, but due to the game’s success rate, the studio was forced to delay several “planned innovations.”
“We could never have expected it would become such a huge success. Our best engineers were unable to foresee the server capacity to support the players’ demand. Our biggest prediction was 50 times lower than what actually happened,” he said.
The addition of legendary Pokémon this summer should come as no surprise. An Ohio woman caught an Articuno last summer, a rare legendary bird-type Pokémon that chills the air when flapping its wings. It is one of five first-generation legendary Pokémon and was supposedly distributed to a number of players in error.
Still, accidental or not, the appearance of a legendary Pokémon indicated that the game would eventually support the highly requested beasts. That will finally happen in July.
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