The actual gameplay and technologies behind Pokémon Go

I was fascinated and hyped when I saw the promotional video (see below) of Pokémon Go, but at the same time I was skeptical and interested how the actual gameplay will look like. So I decided to look more into which technologies they use, how they make use of it and how they combine the technology with the real world.

You can define Pokémon GO as an augmented reality game that combines virtual and real-world gameplay. The game allows users to explore their own neighbourhoods and cities, powered by GPS, to locate Pokémon or other people to battle or trade with on their phones. For example, maybe you’ll find Bulbasaur at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station or Pikachu beneath the Eiffel Tower. Judging from the trailer, it looks like users will as well be able to battle and cooperate with large groups to defeat rarer creatures from the game.

It sounds cool and the promotional video looks awesome. But screen captures really do show a game that takes place on your smartphone’s screen alone, so while there may be GPS components and interactivity, you’ll still need decent service and still be staring at a screen most of the time. That was true of co-creator company Niantic’s last gaming experience as well, a niche AR mobile game called Ingress, which asked users to join two sides and use their smartphones to claim territory around portals of energy (actually just real-world buildings and sculptures).

Nintendo is trying to reduce this amount of time that players spend staring at their smart devices in order to play the game by a Bluetooth-powered device called Pokémon Go Plus. Players can wear the device on their wrist or pinned to their clothing. It has a built-in LED light and a vibration function that will notify players that something important is happening in the game, such as a Pokémon appearing nearby.

This is what we know up till now about which technologies are involved in the game and how the gameplay will look like. I’m curious how it will work out when the game is released (2016). Above all, it’s interesting to see what is possible with combining the latest technologies.



2 responses to “The actual gameplay and technologies behind Pokémon Go”

  1. therealcorti94 says :

    Very interesting article, especially because it pictures each and everyone of our generation’s childhood. I personally like the way they’ve decided to marketise this new innovation in the Pokemon virtual-environment. It doesn’t only attract the younger generations, but also the generations that first experienced Pokemon from a cartoon-series perspective. Above all, it gives this digital imagery impression that it can be an activity for the whole family.

    The thing that probably got most of my attention is the fusion of Pokemon with Augmented Reality. A step from Nintendo to send a message that they too are on top of their game in terms of innovation. However, I do believe this will end up being a total confusion: Bluetooth connection, GPS, Roaming, constant smartphone check-up, bracelets lock-ups. It’s quite demanding if you want to excel at it.

    Regardless of the concept being Pokemon, it’s really intriguing to see that Augmented Reality is rising in its usefulness, and can be associated for other niche markets rather than just e-shopping (Virtual Fitting Rooms), etc…

    Thank you for providing me with more information regarding the concept of Pokemon Go.

  2. 377095lo says :

    Thank you for sharing your skepticism in this blog; I think you’re making some good points. After watching the promotional video as a long (ex) Pokémon fan, I had some difficulties with visualizing the actual gameplay myself. Of course Pokémon GO looks very appealing, but we have to indeed question its use in practice.

    It is somewhat ambiguous that gamers still need to stare at a screen most of the time, whilst Nintento is trying to reduce this at the same time. I think this is one of the main challenges for the gaming industry nowadays, especially now that flow experience is playing an increasingly important role. It makes me wonder whether it is even possible to further involve the players without increasing the intensity of screen staring.

    Still I’m excited for the release and I really wonder if this Pokémon game will catch on!

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