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Mobile-only Pokémon Go's plan to conquer the world

In an extensive new interview, Niantic founder John Hanke talks about his team's plans for Pokémon Go -- the new mobile-only iteration of the franchise announced in September.
"Pokémon may be known through the animation or the cards, but people haven’t had the chance to play the games before. They’ll be able to play the games for the first time."

- Niantic founder John Hanke

In an extensive new interview with VentureBeat, Niantic founder John Hanke talks about his team's plans for Pokémon Go -- the new mobile-only iteration of the franchise announced in September. The game builds on lessons the developer learned while working on Ingress, and there's a huge potential for a mobile-first Pokémon game, Hanke says. 

The mobile-only game is being developed by Niantic in San Francisco, but overseen by developers from The Pokémon Company, which holds the rights to the franchise, and Game Freak, which creates the series' main games on Nintendo handhelds. 

As for those devs, says Hanke, "They’re so excited about this as a new version of the game that’s never been done before. It’s not like it’s just another rev of the handheld game. This is a Pokémon experience that’s brand new, and yet it goes back to the very origin of the franchise. It’s about a kid who goes out in the world and finds Pokémon. If you strip away a lot of the complexity and stuff that’s been added on, it’s the most basic expression of that concept."

"Our goal is to make it so you can walk out of the house and within five minutes, you can find Pokémon. It may not be the most rare Pokémon in the world, but there’ll be a population of Pokémon living near all our players," Hanke says.

This opens up a huge opportunity for the game. Previous games have been tied to Nintendo hardware, which is primarily available only in Europe, North America, and Japan. 

"And there are markets where they don’t even sell Nintendo hardware, because the price point and distribution doesn’t work out -- India, for example, or Brazil -- but there’s surging smartphone usage. We see Ingress players in India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Malaysia. Pokémon may be known through the animation or the cards, but people haven’t had the chance to play the games before. They’ll be able to play the games for the first time. It builds on Ingress, but it’s a much bigger opportunity," Hanke says.

The full (and huge) interview takes in all of these topics and more, and is worth a read. 

Niantic used to be part of Google before it was recently spun out as its own company; it recently secured major investment from Google, The Pokémon Company, and Nintendo.

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