It must be 1996 again, because the Pokémon craze is back. It's been less than a week since Pokémon Go's release, and there are more memes, weird news, and accidental discoveries (like the game leading people to strip clubs and churches, for instance) than you can throw a Pokéball at. The game is still in its stages of infancy, and Niantic and Nintendo have plans to add more features to the app to keep players hooked. So keep up with all the latest updates and take a look back on all the stories that developed along the way, starting from two years ago. Remember when we all thought Pokémon Go was nothing but a big April Fools' joke from Google Maps?
Jan 22, 2020
Pokémon Go’s live events drove nearly $250 million in tourism revenue last year
Niantic Labs says its live events for augmented reality hit Pokémon Go contributed $247 million in tourism revenue last year across three cities. The announcement on Wednesday was paired with the new schedule for 2020 events across Pokémon Go, Ingress Prime, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.Read Article >
“Over the last 7 years, live, real-world events have been central to Niantic’s goal in leveraging technology to create interactive experiences that foster exploration and discovery, active and healthy lifestyles and lasting friendships,” Michael Steranka, Niantic’s senior manager for live events, said in a statement. “Niantic’s large-scale real-world events have had a true and clear positive economic impact on tourism, bringing people from around the world together for a weekend of adventure.”
Nov 6, 2019
Pokémon Go is getting a live AR multiplayer feature called Buddy Adventure
Niantic Labs is bringing some of its next-generation augmented reality tech out of the experimental phase. The company today announced that a live multiplayer feature for Pokémon Go called Buddy Adventure will make its way to the mobile AR game sometime in the next few months.Read Article >
The feature is based on Niantic’s Codename: Neon multiplayer AR technology, which it first showed off last year. It effectively allows two separate devices to create interactive AR objects within the same frame so that two players of a game like Pokémon Go can each see the same AR objects when viewing the world through their iOS or Android camera lens.
Jul 12, 2018
Two years later, Pokémon Go finally has some competition
The summer of 2016 was filled with sunshine and pokéballs. Two years ago, Niantic unleashed Pokémon Go on the world, and parks and city streets were filled with people who were trying to catch a Squirtle or Pikachu. And while the fervor has died down quite a bit, the game is still going strong. A steady stream of updates have introduced new monsters, features like co-operative boss battles and real-time weather effects, and more recently, Niantic added the long-anticipated option to trade pokémon.Read Article >
According to analyst firm Superdata Research, these changes are working. The company says that in May, Pokémon Go’s “player base increased to the highest level since the game’s peak in 2016.” Just this week, 170,000 people traveled to Dortmund, Germany, for one of the game’s real-world events.
Jun 18, 2018
Pokémon Go trading and friends lists are coming soon
Two years later, Pokémon Go is finally getting trading.Read Article >
Today, developer Niantic announced that the feature will be coming to the game soon as part of Pokémon Go’s big summer update, which will also add a new friend feature to the augmented reality mobile hit. Trading has been a long-promised feature for the game, one that Niantic insisted was coming since Pokémon Go debuted back in 2016. “We wanted to make sure we got this right,” Kirsten Koa, a Niantic software engineer who served as technical lead on the feature, explains. “I hope we came up with something that’s natural and enjoyable.”
Aug 14, 2017
Mewtwo is coming to Pokémon Go soon in new invite-only raids
At the Pokémon Go Stadium show in Yokohama, attending players were able to capture the newly available pokémon: legendary Mewtwo. Soon, fellow trainers around the world will have a chance as well. Developer Niantic said that Mewtwo will be available to players worldwide “in the coming weeks” as part of a new, invite-only multiplayer feature called “exclusive raid battles.”Read Article >
Cooperative raid battles were added to the game as part of Pokémon Go’s big summer update, and the exclusive versions work in largely the same way. You’ll still be teaming up with fellow trainers to take down powerful pokémon that are only available for a limited time. The difference with the exclusive raids is that not everyone will get a chance to participate, as it’s for the more dedicated players.
Aug 14, 2017
I just caught Mewtwo at Japan's Pokémon Go Stadium
When Pokémon Go was first announced nearly two years ago, Niantic and Nintendo sold players on the concept with a trailer depicting trainers taking on Mewtwo in Times Square. Tonight in Yokohama, Japan, Pokémon Go more or less delivered on that promise as thousands of players worked together to catch the notorious legendary pokémon in a baseball stadium.Read Article >
Pokémon Go events got off to an inglorious start last month with a disastrous gathering in Chicago that saw battles scuppered by spotty cell service. It was enough for Niantic to delay some of its scheduled European meetings altogether. But the Pokémon Go Stadium show went pretty much to plan.
Jun 8, 2017
Pokémon Go will host real-life events to celebrate its anniversary
It’s a little hard to believe, but Pokémon Go has been out for almost a full year. To celebrate, Niantic Labs announced that it’s planning a number of in-game and in-person events.Read Article >
The first big event, called the Solstice Event, will take place in the game. This will happen on June 13th, and it’ll include Fire-type and Ice-type pokémon, XP bonuses, and discounted Lucky Eggs. The team also announced that it’ll soon release a new update that focuses on collaborative gameplay which hints at a “new way” to play the game, but will also temporarily close down in-game gyms for a short while.
Sep 8, 2016
The Pokémon Go Plus wearable will launch next week
The Pokémon Go Plus wearable will be released on September 16th, developer Niantic Labs has announced, almost two months after its planned launch date. The $35 device — a wrist-mounted BlueTooth sensor that vibrates when pokémon and pokéstops are near — was originally set for launch at the end of July, but was pushed back until September without explanation. Nintendo apologized to customers who preordered the Pokémon Go Plus after the release delay was initially announced, promising them a discount on future purchases. It's an approach that seems to have worked — the device remains sold out at both Amazon and GameStop.Read Article >
Pokémon Go developer Niantic Labs and the Pokémon Company announced the revised release date shortly after Apple's September 7th press conference, at which Niantic confirmed that an Apple Watch version of the app was on its way. The developer may hope that the new version and wearable will help reverse its player exodus: Pokémon Go's popularity has dipped since its launch, dropping from 45 million active users in late July to 30 million in mid-August.
Aug 18, 2016
This woman is leaving adorable crocheted pokémon at pokéstops
We’re a couple weeks into a post-Pokémon Go world, and I have to admit that I’m not opening the app as much as I used to. I’d be back on board if I lived in Lewisville, Texas though, if only for a shot at finding a crocheted Bellsprout at a pokéstop.Read Article >
Nichole Dunigan is the artist behind these handmade cuties, and she’s been hiding them in various pokéstops and gyms around her neighborhood for local kids to find.
Aug 12, 2016
Niantic is now permanently banning Pokémon Go cheaters
Game maker Niantic, the developer behind mobile sensation Pokémon Go, is now issuing permanent bans to players who violate its terms of service. Though TOS violations vary, these bans appear to be directed at cheaters who rely on GPS spoofing, bots, and other software techniques that allow Pokémon Go to be played beyond the realm of Niantic's design parameters. For instance, GPS spoofing lets you trick a smartphone into thinking you're located in a different country, allowing you to catch pokémon that may be more easily located in that area or restricted to certain regions. Bots, on the other hand, let you automate portions of the game.Read Article >
In a note posted to its website this week, Niantic outlines violations of its TOS that can result in a permanent ban. "This includes, but is not limited to: falsifying your location, using emulators, modified or unofficial software and/or accessing Pokémon Go clients or backends in an unauthorized manner including through the use of third party software," the note reads. "Our goal is to provide a fair, fun and legitimate game experience for everyone. We will continue to work with all of you to improve the quality of the gameplay, including ongoing optimization and fine tuning of our anti-cheat system." The company includes a link to an appeal form for trying to reverse a ban if it was issued by mistake.
Aug 9, 2016
Pokémon Go's battery-saving feature is back, and a new pokémon-tracking mode is coming
Pokémon Go's latest update is out, and it restores the battery-saving mode that mysteriously disappeared from the previous version of the iOS app. To use it, hold your phone upside-down while playing; the screen will dim, so you can walk around and wait for pokémon to buzz you without the need to constantly watch your phone.Read Article >
Elsewhere, the version 1.3 update adds images of the three previously silhouetted team leaders Candela, Blanche, and Spark (named in order of awesomeness); lets you change your trainer's name once and only once; and fixes various other bugs. Your curveball pokéball throws should now be more accurate!
Aug 5, 2016
Battery pack sales doubled after Pokémon Go's release
People really weren't joking about needing extra batteries to play Pokémon Go. Battery pack sales doubled in the US during roughly the two weeks that followed the game's release, according to The NPD Group. It reports seeing a year-over-year growth of 101 percent, with 1.2 million mobile battery packs being sold between July 10th and July 23rd, just days after the game's July 6th release.Read Article >
Pokémon Go really seems to be the only explanation here. NPD notes that while battery pack sales have generally been increasing from 2015, sales were only up 4 percent in the weeks prior to the game's release. So Pokémon Go very much seems to be what triggered it. The custom pokéball batteries that popped up may have helped, too.
Aug 5, 2016
Pokémon Go's creator says Brazil and Latin America launch was delayed by third-party apps
Pokémon Go developer Niantic Labs has once again blamed third-party services like the once-popular Pokévision for continued server problems and slow rollout of its wildly popular app. In a blog post, Niantic said that that it had been delayed in bringing Pokémon Go to Brazil and Latin America due to "aggressive efforts by third parties to access our servers outside of the Pokémon Go game client and our terms of service."Read Article >
Niantic first suggested that third-party Pokémon Go helper apps were slowing its development earlier this week, in a post justifying why it had blocked services like Pokévision. The developer made that association clearer last night, stating that the "seemingly innocuous sites and apps actually hurt our ability to deliver the game to new and existing players," and claiming that resources freed up by their blockage allowed Niantic to finally get the game to countries waiting for the game. Niantic provided an unlabeled graph that showed the drop in server load since third-party apps were banned.
Aug 4, 2016
Pokémon Go owners are threatening to sue developers over third-party hacks
In the latest twist in the ongoing feud between the Pokémon Go community and the app's creators, The Pokémon Company has sent out at least one cease and desist letter to an independent developer threatening prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The letter, sent to GitHub user Mila432 and reposted online, contains a detailed breakdown of how the developer violated Pokémon Go's terms of service with a reverse-engineered application programming interface (API). It also says the developer may be subject to legal action if he or she does not comply with the company's demands.Read Article >
"Your actions ... potentially violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a statute that prohibits the unauthorized access of servers and access which exceeds authorization as well as similar state statues," the letter reads. "And your inducement of others to violate numerous terms of service provisions violates the CFAA." It's unclear if The Pokémon Company could actually bring a CFAA lawsuit against someone for breaking the terms of service in this case when there is no material harm done. But it's certainly not the most outlandish use of the law.
Aug 4, 2016
Japanese Olympic champion racks up $5,000 bill playing Pokémon Go in Brazil
A Japanese Olympics star has blamed Pokémon Go after being hit with a 500,000 yen (about $5,000) bill in roaming charges from his carrier. Artistic gymnast Kohei Uchimura, who won gold at the 2012 Games in London and is the reigning world champion, said he only downloaded the game after arriving in Sao Paulo to train for Rio, but quickly got hooked despite not having arranged a flat rate for data roaming.Read Article >
Uchimura "couldn't believe his eyes" when he saw the bill, according to the Kyodo news agency, with teammate Kenzo Shirai saying "He looked dead at the team meal that day." Even though Pokémon Go isn't particularly heavy on data and there were likely other culprits — the game only officially came out in Brazil today, though Uchimura may have been playing the Japanese version — roaming charges can rack up extremely quickly when you use your phone abroad for pretty much anything online.
Aug 2, 2016
Pokémon Go creators blame third-party apps like Pokévision for poor service quality
The creators of Pokémon Go have responded to criticism from fans after a recent update to the app crippled or removed a number of popular features. The latest version of the app, released this weekend, removed a (partly broken) pokémon-tracking tool, as well as a battery-saving mode and support for third-party pokémon maps. The game's developers have given a number of reasons for these changes, saying that the tracking feature was "confusing" and that third-party apps interfered with the company's ability to "maintain quality of service" and bring the game to new markets. Basically, too many unofficial apps were putting undue stress on the game's servers.Read Article >
Aug 1, 2016
New York governor bars sex offenders from playing Pokémon Go
At the direction of Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York’s correctional department has made playing online games a violation of parole for sex offenders — particularly Pokémon Go. In a statement, Cuomo said that people on the sex offender registry are now banned from "downloading, accessing, or otherwise engaging in any internet enabled gaming activities, including Pokémon Go." He also published a letter that he sent to game developer Niantic, asking for its cooperation in preventing registrants from signing up.Read Article >
The decision is based on a report from two New York state senators, released last week. Jeffrey Klein and Diane Savino visited the locations of 100 registered sex offenders in New York City and found 57 pokémon and 59 pokéstops and gyms within half a city block. They were particularly worried about the "lures" that draw pokémon — and thus players, including children — to a location. While criminals have used pokéstops and lures to attract and rob players, there are no known cases of sexual predators using them so far. Nonetheless, Klein and Savino have crafted bills that would ban sex offenders from playing the game and require Niantic to remove any Pokémon Go-related items or locations from near their homes.
Aug 1, 2016
This map for Pokémon Go already bypasses Niantic’s new restrictionsRead Article >
Smart Poké 2 offers several customizable features to help stay focused on the world around you by only opening Pokémon Go when needed: users can receive notifications if they walk by any rare pokémon, and can even enable an always-on notification that lists all nearby pokémon any time you open the lock screen.
Aug 1, 2016
Niantic has crippled your favorite Pokémon Go map apps
Pokémon Go players have noticed a number of changes to the game this weekend, thanks to some tweaks that Niantic, the game's developer, is making. Chief among the changes is the removal of the broken tracking feature that Niantic had been using to let players know monsters were nearby. Instead of fixing the feature, Niantic has simply removed it so it's very difficult to identify exactly where pokémon are "nearby" you.Read Article >
That feature removal has angered and upset Pokémon Go fans, alongside a combination of some other changes that have crippled third-party services like PokéVision for mapping out where pokémon exist. PokéVision says it is "respecting Niantic and Nintendo's wishes," after Niantic CEO John Hanke revealed in a recent interview that he wasn't happy with third-party map apps. However, Niantic has actually altered its Pokémon Go servers at the weekend, changing the way third-party apps can access data about pokémon.
Jul 28, 2016
This Pokémon Go GPS hack is the most impressive yet
As Pokémon Go continues its huge surge of international popularity, there have already been a wide variety of creative methods from various players who have tried in various ways to beat the system, from drones to phone cases to just outright trying to sell accounts.Read Article >
But new video from earlier this week has raised the stakes again for Pokémon Go hacking, with a unique hardware-based solution to solve the problem of actually having to go outside and walk around to catch pokémon.
Jul 28, 2016
This Android app is the best way to find pokémon on the go
There's an entire digital cottage industry sprouting up around Pokémon Go, the explosively popular augmented reality game that has people hitting the streets scouring for imaginary pocket monsters. Naturally, the most common of these third-party products revolve around maps that help you locate which pokémon are nearby and when they tend to disappear. We've already heard about the web-based PokéVision, and developer Ahmed Almutawa's Google Maps visualization tool. But now we have something even better: a fully-featured Android app called Poké Live.Read Article >
The app comes courtesy of app maker Joaquim Vergès, and it's hands-down the most clean and responsive Pokémon Go map I've used. It instantaneously hones in on your location and populates your surroundings with nearby pokémon. It also doesn't require any login whatsoever. The software is an improvement over something like PokéVision, which can sometimes be unresponsive and requires you to input your location before it searches the area. This comes as no surprise, considering Vergès is the maker of the popular Android Twitter client Falcon Pro. He now works full-time at the social network on its Android user interface team.
Jul 27, 2016
Pokémon Go player uses a bot to reach the game's maximum level
The hardcore Pokémon Go players out there know that once you reach level 20 in the augmented reality mobile game, the difficulty curve starts getting much steeper. How steep? Well, to go from level 19 to 20 requires 25,000 experience points. To go from 20 to 21 requires twice as much — the first time the game doubles the requirement — and the number increases dramatically every few levels. In fact, one player was so curious about the level progression that they used a software bot to churn through as much XP as possible until the game hit its end.Read Article >
The player, who goes by "_problemz" on Reddit, says he or she only cheated at Pokémon Go out of curiosity and discovered the game stops letting you progress at level 40. The requirement to jump from level 39 is 5 million XP, and the total cumulative XP required is a mind-boggling 20 million points. There's no concrete proof except a collection of screenshots confirming the feat:
Jul 25, 2016
Nintendo shares plummet after investors realize it doesn't actually make Pokémon Go
Nintendo shares have skyrocketed since Pokémon Go's release and instant transformation into global cultural phenomenon, but they fell dramatically today after investors realized that Nintendo doesn't actually make the game. Nintendo put out a statement after the close of trading on Friday pointing out that the bottom-line impact will be "limited" as it only owns 32 percent of The Pokémon Company, and that revenue from the game and its Pokémon Go Plus smartwatch peripheral have been accounted for in the company's current forecasts.Read Article >
Pokémon Go is a collaboration between The Pokémon Company and Niantic Labs, the developer who previously created the similar AR game Ingress as part of Google. This apparent revelation caused shares to plummet in Monday trading, with the stock dropping 17 percent at one point, representing about $6.4 billion in value; as Bloomberg notes, Tokyo stock exchange rules prevent share prices from moving more than 18 percent in a single day.
Jul 24, 2016
Pokémon Go will eventually add new pokémon and customizable pokéstops
Pokémon Go has been such a phenomenon that Comic-Con upgraded it from a tiny panel into a premier event in Hall H, where it appeared to pack most of the 6,000-plus seats in the room this afternoon. If you've questioned how seriously people are taking this game, you should hear how long the cheers (and jeers) of several thousand fans went on for in response to a single shout of, "Team Mystic!"Read Article >
The panel was a simple back and forth between John Hanke, Niantic's CEO and founder, and Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick, the moderator. Hanke discussed the game's rollout over the past two weeks (frequently noting Niantic's work on server issues) and touched briefly on where the game is going in the future. Perhaps most exciting for newer Pokémon fans, Hanke said that new generations of creatures would eventually make their way into the game.
Jul 22, 2016
Pokémon Go is FINALLY out in the country that discovered pokémon
Japan's long national nightmare is over: its citizens and residents are now finally able to use "Pokémon Go," a smartphone application that helps people find and catch pokémon around them. As you're no doubt aware, pokémon are a diverse class of creatures that were first discovered by Japanese scientists Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori in 1996, meaning species like the pikachu have forever been associated with Japan.Read Article >
However, The Pokémon Company — the organization responsible for promoting the welfare of pokémon worldwide — has been reluctant to adopt smartphone technology for conservation until now, and contracted US developer Niantic Labs to create Pokémon Go. As such, launching the app in the United States appears to have been more of a priority, possibly because Japan's higher pokémon density than the US could have caused technical issues with users' pokédexes.