Niantic has a surprising plan for the future of Pokémon Go: to run the game like an MMO.
“There’s no way to sugarcoat it, we were overwhelmed by how [Pokémon Go] took off,” Niantic chief marketing officer Mike Quigley explained in an interview with Eurogamer. “The success of the product caught us out of position in a couple of areas—we fully admit it. The summer was quite painful—no one slept much. But this has always been a marathon, not a sprint.”
Whereas most free-to-play mobile games hope to cash in on a surge of popularity before shutting down, that was never Niantic’s plan. Though the game did achieve immense popularity upon launch—so much so that it broke all kinds of records and causes Quigley to describe keeping the game running as “fire-fighting”—there’s a ton of content in the Pokémon universe that has yet to make it onto the app.
“We are more an MMO than anything else,” Quigley explained. “We have two week client sprints, two week server-side sprints. Every two weeks there’s new content or bug fixes going in the game. There’s key content releases we’re planning.
“I think our lifespan and curve may be quite different from a free-to-play mobile game—it may be more in a [World of] Warcraft vein just because of the type of game we are. It’s not about taking a bunch of money off the table and going.… It’s about doing right by the brand and doing right by the fans.”
Several major features that Niantic has promised fans in the past, such as trading and PvP battling, have yet to be added to the game and may be included in the content that’s being added. Even if these systems aren’t added, there are still roughly 650 Pokémon from subsequent generations that have yet to make it into the game. Events to capture legendary Pokémon were also promised in trailers, and Niantic’s recently begun implementing holiday-themed and update-themed events. If the company does, indeed, intend to space out content MMO-style, there’s plenty left to add.
In the meantime, Niantic CEO John Hanke has hinted that there’s a secret in the game that players have yet to find. Time for trainers to start hunting.