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Augmented Reality: How Niantic and Pokemon Go Will Change the Way We Play Games

Niantic and Nintendo revealed Pokémon Go last month. There's no doubt that it will introduce a new way of playing games to a wider audience, but just what questions still need to be answered?
We're all about to live in a Pokémon World...

In a GameSkinny article last month, all of us were introduced to Pokémon Go. We learned that the next Pokémon game wouldn't come to the 3DS, like everyone would have expected. Instead, it was revealed that it will be coming to our smartphones.

Since Nintendo has been saying that they are ready to develop for mobile since March of this year (and likely before that, since Pokemon Go has been in development since 2013), this move should not have been unexpected in retrospect. The mobile market isn't exactly new to Nintendo, since they have had some small successes in Japan as far back as December of last year with their Collectable Badge Center.

Oh, and they also bought ten percent of deNA, a Japanese mobile developer.

...And Ingress Brought Us There

Niantic, the second half of the partnership with Nintendo, is in charge of creating every aspect of the Augmented Reality in Pokémon Go. These are the developers behind Ingress, another Augmented Reality Game that uses much of the same underlying framework as Pokémon Go; Traveling to specific sites, special events, and story elements woven in all the while. Ingress players have had full scale battles in Disneyland, Longshore, and entire thousand mile swaths of land on more than four continents. 

If this is the future of Pokémon, we might just have a revolution on our hands. Right now, people are usually tied to Wi-fi battles or yearly tournaments in one location. Now you might find people in real, tangible locations all over the world ready to battle or trade with you at a moment's notice anywhere, any time of year. Once where you had to sit for hours just to make enough progress to find that rare monster, or level up to get that Charizard, you can just open up your front door and find one standing across the street, ready for you to catch them.

...And the Reality

All of that being said, this is all theoretical of course. We can infer from the trailer that we can see the monsters from our device’s camera, but not whether it will display the actual space beyond, or a generic backdrop, as seen in the promotional photos. We also do not know how much the peripherals or extra in-app items will cost, or how much they will affect standard gameplay, or how this might interact with future main releases.

In the end, Nintendo and Niantic have some lofty goals and a lot of potential to do something downright amazing. However, these are many questions that still remain unanswered, and there are a lot of fans, including myself, that will be watching this project with much interest in the coming months.

Published Oct. 8th 2015

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