Pokemon GO has some big, important backers: Nintendo, Google, and The Pokemon Company.
It’s good news for developer Niantic Labs, who is creating the location-based Pokemon app. Niantic previously made Ingress, an app that uses Google Maps data to create an augmented reality experience with your phone. Players logged into Ingress fight over control of portals that you can only see in the app, but are located in the real world.
Pokemon GO will have a similar structure. Your phone’s GPS will be used to track you, and show you where you can find virtual Pokemon in real life. Then you can battle and capture them, just like you do in the Pokemon fantasies you’ve been having since you were 12. Like Ingress, the app will add a layer of fantasy to the real world through the lens of your phone. Even though you can’t actually see or touch the Pokemon, they’ll be all around you.
The investor companies have given Niantic 20 million dollars towards the development of Pokemon GO, with an additional 10 million when the company hits milestones, presumably in terms of player growth among other important factors.
“Niantic has shown the great potential of mixing geolocation technology, dynamic storytelling and innovative game design, and we’re excited to continue supporting the team on their journey,” said Don Harrison, vice president of Corporate Development at Google.
“We will be using this capital to continue the development of Pokemon GO, to evolve and grow Ingress and its thriving global community, and to build out our real-world gaming platform,” said John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic Labs.
The president of The Pokemon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, said that, “The Pokemon Company is committed to partnering with companies like Niantic that share the same spirit of community and innovation.”
Pokemon GO is set to be released for mobile phones in 2016. In addition to the app, Niantic is releasing a bluetooth wearable called the Pokemon GO Plus. The GO Plus can be worn on your wrist and will notify you when a Pokemon is nearby.
It will be available in the Google Play Store and the App Store.