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?
Jul 12, 2016
Pokémon Go for iOS has just been updated to version 1.0.1, with developer Niantic Labs promising improved stability, crash fixes, and a less intrusive grip on Google account permissions. Last week, it was discovered that the massively popular augmented reality game was granting itself "full access" to the accounts of those who signed up to start playing Pokémon Go using a Google account. This was seen as needlessly intrusive by security experts, who cautioned users against granting the game such dramatic overreach.Read Article >
That broad access technically allowed Niantic to access your email and even your location, though the company was quick to issue a statement claiming that the game collects only "basic" info like user ID and email address. "Google has verified that no other information has been received or accessed by Pokémon Go or Niantic," the company said, vowing to fix the issue quickly. It appears that's now happened, so you can breathe a little easier as you start your quest to collect them all. The new update is now live in the App Store.
Jul 12, 2016
If you’re an adult, the augmented reality aspect of Pokémon Go — where animated pokémon are overlaid on top of the real world — is mostly good for jokes. It’s like a handy meme-generator tacked on to a video game. But for a kid, that same feature may as well be a portal into a magical new world.Read Article >
Since the game’s launch last week, much has been made of how Pokémon Go has managed to reach both new users and court long-time Pokémon fans. But for me, it’s been an amazing tool for introducing my oldest daughter to one of my favorite fictional universes. As a three-year-old, she can’t play the main games in the series, which require quite a bit of reading and number-crunching. But she loves the characters, thanks mostly to the animated series. Pokémon Go bridges that gap. When I first showed her a Pidgeotto flying near her little sister’s crib, her eyes lit up. It’s like this fantasy creature had been hiding there all this time, just waiting for her find it.
Jul 12, 2016
Niantic Labs, the developer behind the currently planet-dominating Pokémon Go, has responded to concerns over a potential security flaw in the app. Signing into the iOS version of Pokémon Go with a Google account requests permission for full access to that account, raising fears that critical information like email and location history could be potentially compromised, but Niantic says that's not the intention and that it hasn't received data of that nature beyond "basic Google profile information." A fix is said to be on the way.Read Article >
Here's the full statement Niantic provided to The Verge:
Want to participate in the cultural moment that is Pokémon Go? You could read our how-to guide and dedicate dozens of hours and potentially tens of dollars to the hobby, gradually discovering its secrets, making new friends, and finding new favorite local spots in your jaunts across town. Or you could just buy a plush account off Craiglist.Read Article >
For $100, an anonymous user claims to be selling a "Level 20+ Pokemon Go Account. 75+ caught types of pokemon, 9/9 Eggs, lots of items [with] 2000+ CP pokemon." Of course, that will read like nonsense to those who have’t already played the game. The target market here, it appears, is someone who’s enjoyed a bit of Pokémon Go, and yet is exhausted by the very thought of effort.
Jul 11, 2016
As the new Pokémon Go app slowly takes over the Earth, a natural question arose: has the app’s influence extended out into the vacuum of space?Read Article >
Let’s face it: space would be the ultimate place to play Pokémon Go. The station travels around the Earth at about 17,000 miles per hour. Just think of all the pokéstops you could visit in just one orbit! But do astronauts even have GPS-related apps in space, let alone smartphones?
Jul 11, 2016
Jonathan Zarra knew something about Pokémon Go that most people didn’t. As a beta tester this summer, the 28-year-old freelance developer had early access to the smash hit mobile game — and as a result, he could see that it offered users no way to chat with one another inside the app. And so Zarra built GoChat, an independent app that lets Pokémon Go users leave notes for each other at in-game locations.Read Article >
"This is a feature that really should be there," Zarra says. "Especially in a location-based game — this just makes sense." Within five days, Zarra’s free app is approaching 1 million users and hitting servers with 600 requests per second. It may also drive Zarra bankrupt.
Jul 11, 2016
Pokémon Go has become wildly popular in the days since its release last week, but the app may be hiding a serious security issue. In many cases, users who sign into the app through a Google Account are often inadvertently granting broad permissions over all information linked to the account, including the power to read and send emails. At no point in the sign-in process does the app notify users that full access is being granted.Read Article >
There's no indication that developer Niantic Labs is actively using that power, but it still represents a dangerous overreach and a real privacy concern for millions of users.
Jul 11, 2016
The Pokémon Go craze is real, and it's forcing ghastly pale nerds like me who have never felt the kiss of Earth's sun to catch some dang virtual pokémans. (Other plural forms of Pokémon include Pokémen and Pokésmons.)Read Article >
An unexpected side effect of Pokémon Go has been accidental exercise, as shown in this Gizmodo article documenting dozens of players reporting sore legs from walking around. One Pokémon Go player found a sneaky way around this pandemic, by strapping his Android to a DJI Phantom drone and mirroring his phone screen on his laptop using a program called AirDroid.
For April Fools’ Day 2014, Google invited players to catch pokémon inside of the Google Maps app. The pop-up game was simple, akin to Where’s Waldo, but the goliath company promoted the special event with a faux trailer that looks in hindsight like a target video for Pokémon Go.Read Article >
Here’s the original trailer for 2014’s Pokémon Challenge:
Pokémon Go is a paradox, a bland and repetitive game that nonetheless delivers the series' tacit fantasy better than any entry in its 20-year history. The game lacks the strategy and story of its predecessors, relies on internet connection that regularly fails, and the game itself is prone to crashes. But it’s the only Pokémon game that lets you catch a pikachu in your backyard. That may be enough.Read Article >
Pokémon, for the unconverted, is an ever-expanding bestiary of cartoon creatures designed for maximum lovability and populated throughout countless video games, television programs, films, and merchandising opportunities. The heart of the franchise is a series of roleplaying games, in which a tweenage boy or girl travels between colorful towns collecting the hundreds of critters, training them to battle, and forcing them to battle the captives of increasingly skilled pokémon masters.
Jul 11, 2016
Nintendo makes amazing games. For the last three decades, that fact hasn’t really been in question. But as of late, the company’s audience has been severely limited by hardware. The tiny install base of the Wii U means that gems like Splatoon have seen relatively limited success, and while the 3DS has sold more than 50 million units, that’s still only a third of what its predecessor sold. Nintendo’s insistence on only releasing games on its own hardware means that the company is able to carefully craft wonderful, inventive experiences, but it also limits the potential audience. And now we have an idea of just how big that audience is thanks to Pokémon Go, the company’s most important release of 2016.Read Article >
Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game for iOS and Android created in collaboration between Nintendo, The Pokémon Company, and former Google subsidiary Niantic Labs, the studio behind another AR game called Ingress. The game lets you live out your Pokémon fantasies, using your phone’s GPS to travel around the real world, catching virtual pocket monsters. Despite the exciting premise, it’s actually a fairly basic game, missing many of the key features you’d expect from Pokémon. You can’t actually train the creatures you collect, for instance, nor battle against other players using a variety of moves. The game is also only available in a few countries, and has been beset by technical problems, with server issues that often prevent people from actually playing it.
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Pokémon Go is a mobile smash hit, but many would-be fans have been disappointed by the game's slow international release. The app launched in the US, Australia, and New Zealand last week, but its popularity took game-makers Niantic by surprise, and the company "paused" the title's rollout while its servers recovered. The wait should be over soon, though, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that Pokémon Go will launch Europe and Asia "within a few days." There's no official comment on this timeframe, with the WSJ citing "people familiar with plans for the game."
Nintendo's stock continues to skyrocket following the release of Pokémon Go. After an increase of 9.3 percent with the game's launch last week, the company's share price rose 24.52 percent on Monday to ¥20,260 ($193) — its highest one-day surge since 1983, adding $7.5 billion to the firm's market value. The game has topped app download charts in the US, Australia, and New Zealand, and according to some market researchers, has already been installed on 5 percent of all Android smartphones in America.Read Article >
According to one equity analyst, Pokémon Go will need to create around $140 million to $196 million in turnover each month to have a significant impact on Nintendo's profits. Mia Nagasaka of Morgan Stanley told CNBC that Pokémon Go is estimated to have made $3.9 million to $4.9 million on its first day of release, suggesting that the game will need to keep near the top of the app charts pretty consistently to be a signifiant earner. Revenue can come through microtransactions, but also marketing tie-ins — drawing users to businesses with the release of location-specific pokémon, for example.
As popular as Pokémon Go has become, sending players out into the real world to find pokémon, it is creating new, unexpected problems. The O'Fallon, Missouri Police Department reported on Facebook today that armed robbers have used the app to lure victims in and rob them at gunpoint.Read Article >
The police received reports about the robberies and were able to apprehend four suspects in the area. Apparently, the thieves used the app to set up a beacon at a Pokéstop within the game. Using this method, Sergeant Bill Stringer of the OPD told Motherboard that the culprits were able to rob 11 players, all between the ages of 16 and 18, in the St. Louis and St. Charles counties of Missouri.
Pokémon Go has taken iOS and Android by storm this weekend, jumping to the top of the App Store and Google Play Store in just a matter of days. However, game developer Niantic is nowhere near done building on its new hit. CEO John Hanke recently told Business Insider that the game will eventually allow players to trade their Pokémon with their friends, just like in the halcyon Gameboy days.Read Article >
"It's kind of a core element," Hanke said. Though Hanke wouldn't go into great detail about the feature, he said that the feature would help foster interactions between players in the real world, which is what Go aims for. And after all, trading Pokémon across different versions of the game is one of the franchise's enduring features, letting players complete their collections on the way to catching 'em all.
Jul 8, 2016
Pokémon Go is sweeping the nation, and along with its growing popularity is a steady stream of bizarre news stories and personal anecdotes of near-death experiences. First there was the Australian police warning users not to physically enter the police station when collecting items, and earlier today Washington's Department of Transportation warned against "pokemoning" while driving. The mobile game's dedicated subreddit is also filling up with reports of personal injury incurred while exploring the real world for digital creatures.Read Article >
Now, a teenager has discovered a dead body floating in her hometown river. Shayla Wiggins, a 19-year-old Riverton, Wyoming resident, discovered a man floating in the Wind River early this morning when trying to catch pokémon from a "natural water resource," she told KTVQ.com. Wiggins called 911 and local police arrived on the scene to retrieve the body. The Fremont County Sheriff's Office confirmed the discovery in a press release given to The Verge. It notably excludes the phrase "Pokémon Go":
Jul 7, 2016
I downloaded Pokémon Go last night like a dutiful citizen of Pallet Town (Bushwick is the Pallet Town of New York, okay), and had to catch my breath at the first opening screen. Standing before me was an unfamiliar — but not unwelcomed — face, a prematurely graying man with an exquisitely chiseled jaw attached to a toned body that just wouldn't quit.Read Article >
I immediately took a screenshot, then put my phone away because I was at a backyard BBQ and I didn't want to be rude. This morning I fired up the app again, faced the glistening eyes of this salt-and-pepper haired man of authority again and took another screenshot, forgetting about the one I had taken 12 hours earlier.
Jul 7, 2016
After a somewhat rocky launch over the last 24 hours, Pokémon Go is now available in the US for iOS and Android. The App Store link can be found here, while the Play Store version is here. Pokémon Go first began populating in app stores in Australia and New Zealand yesterday, and the availability of the app in those two markets alone set off an internet frenzy that's persisted all throughout the day.Read Article >
At the time, The Pokémon Company, which works with Nintendo and game maker Niantic Labs to oversee development of Go, told US and Japan players to "please wait a while." It seems that wait wasn't too long, as the augmented reality mobile game has finally popped up for iPhone users in Apple's US online store. The Play Store link, which previously said the app was "unavailable in your country," became active just a short while ago following a slight delay after the iOS link went live. It's unclear at this time when Pokémon Go will be made available in Japan, Canada, the UK, or other markets.
Pokémon Go is still propagating around the world, starting first with official launches in Australia and New Zealand. But players are already spreading information far and wide about how the augmented reality mobile app works and, specifically, what its payment structure involves. Because Pokémon Go is a free-to-play app, it allows players to spend real money on in-game coins. Developer Niantic Labs stresses this is not a way to pay your way to the top, but a method that allows players to buy consumable items they could normally find in the wild without too much effort.Read Article >
In other words, the microtransactions in Pokémon Go are more for the lazy than they are the strategic. The game involves moving around the real world and using your smartphone as a gateway to a Pokémon universe in which you can catch creatures, find items at local hangouts, and battle and take control of gyms at notable landmarks. If you're out and about actually playing the game as it's designed, you'll regularly find items like Pokéballs for catching pokémon, incense for luring them, and eggs that hatch potentially hard-to-find pokémon. If you don't have that kind of time, you can buy in-game currency to purchase those items.
Jul 6, 2016
The police in Australia’s Northern Territory have a message for the surge of new Pokémon Go players: be careful, look both ways when crossing the street, and please don’t enter a police station while trying to catch a Sandshrew.Read Article >
Released today, Pokémon Go is a mobile game that encourages players to use their smartphones' GPS and back-facing cameras to catch virtual pokémon in real world locations. According to a post on the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services Facebook page, spotted by @isshikisenpai on Twitter, one of those locations is the Darwin Police Station in northern Australia.
Pokémon Go, the augmented reality mobile game from Nintendo and developer Niantic Labs, is out now for both iOS and Android in select countries. The app's Play Store listing is available here and the App Store link here. The app first went live in Australia and New Zealand yesterday before becoming available in the US. According to The Wall Street Journal, The Pokémon Company is recommending Japan users "please wait for a while" for the app's official launch in those markets. It's unclear when the app will launch in the UK, Canada, or other markets.Read Article >
For those who haven't been following the title's development, the game uses your smartphone's camera and sensors, as well as location-based algorithms, to place pokémon in the real world. That way, as you travel around to landmarks and notable locations in your city, you can catch the creatures and then train and battle them at gyms. The game was created by Niantic, the maker of a similar AR mobile game called Ingress, in collaboration with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company. While it's a free app, Pokémon Go does contain microtransactions costing $0.99 to $99.99. You can also purchase a $35 wrist-worn wearable, due out some time this month, that lets you play the game without having to unlock your phone.
Jun 30, 2016
Central to Pokémon Go is an exciting concept: that your smartphone is the perfect real-life analog to the Pokédex. By mixing software with a device’s camera and sensors, you can bring to life a video game and blend it with the real world. All the while, your phone can catalog and store the pokémon you capture and act as a gateway into a new world layered on top of our own.Read Article >
After spending a few days with the beta version of developer Niantic's new mobile game, I can safely say the title mostly makes good on this promise. What’s holding it back, however, is the technology. For those who were expecting something even remotely as fully-featured as Google’s 2014 April Fools’ joke, you will be disappointed. AR software, coupled with the limitations of current phone hardware, can’t fully map out the environment or understand objects in physical space, not yet. It sounds silly to have expected such a mind-blowing experience in the first place, but it’s important to temper your expectations.
Jun 15, 2016
Pokémon Go, the augmented reality free-to-play mobile game from Niantic, will be available this July. Nintendo announced the release window during its second-day E3 live stream, but didn't give a concrete day. The company did say the game's accessory, a wrist-worn wearable called Pokémon Go Plus that lets you play the game without using your smartphone, will be available for $34.99. Unfortunately, it won't be quite ready at launch, Nintendo clarified.Read Article >
Pokémon Go is an ambitious AR title being developed by Niantic, the makers of Android game Ingress, in conjunction with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company. In our first hands-on look at the game earlier this month, we saw exactly how the game incorporates the same real-world exploration elements of Ingress with a pokémon twist. The core gameplay will involve looking through your smartphone camera while the software integrates the digital creatures into the environment.
Jun 10, 2016
The seeds of Pokémon Go were first planted with an April Fools’ joke. It was 2014, and Google’s Niantic Inc., the studio behind augmented reality Android game Ingress, got a glimpse at what a Pokémon game may look like if AR technology was many years more advanced than it is today. The hoax video, which was bundled with a Google Maps mini-game, showed a slew of explorers finding Pokémon hidden in nature, using software that could map a virtual creature to the physical surroundings. The clip quickly racked up millions of views on YouTube. Even though people were quite aware the video was fake, they wanted it badly to be real.Read Article >
Two years later, that wish is coming true in the form of a mobile game called Pokémon Go. And Niantic, now a standalone company, is responsible for making it happen. We got an inside look at the title last week at the company’s offices in San Francisco, and it’s clear Go is one of the most ambitious AR games to date. In true AR fashion, Go overlays text, graphics, and, yes, your friendly neighborhood Charmander by scanning a scene and understanding where to place the objects.
Apr 27, 2016
Cutesy social networking app Miitomo became Nintendo's first foray into mobile gaming when it was released last month, but it's Pokémon Go — the Japanese publisher's upcoming augmented-reality mobile monster-collecting game — that promises to be the real test of how Nintendo can adapt to the platform. Now, as Nintendo dishes out beta invites for the game to a selection of people in Australia and New Zealand, we're getting a better idea of how the game plays.Read Article >
Nine minutes of footage taken from the Australian field test of Pokémon Go expands on what we saw last month, showing the player selecting their avatar, choosing its gender, clothing, and facial features, before taking to the streets and collecting their first wild Pokémon. Unlike Nintendo's handheld Pokémon games, it appears you won't be starting out with a little Poké-buddy from the off, and new monsters aren't collected by battling — instead, Pokémon appear superimposed on the street in front of you, and can be captured by hitting them in the right spot with Pokéballs from your inventory. Collecting enough of the creatures will let you battle gym leaders in the game, but again, there's none of the battle strategy we've come to expect from Game Boy and DS versions of the series, with both Pokémon simply repeating attacks automatically at each other.