This morning turned out to be quite eventful, mainly thanks to the great people at Recode Decode podcast. Today’s guest at Decode was John Hanke, Niantic CEO and the master mind behind Pokemon GO, Ingress and Field Trip.

Hanke talked about the company history, his personal history and future of Pokemon. He discussed rural areas, Poke Stop submissions, legendary events, Pokemon trading and trainer battles.

You can listen to the entire interview in the section below and read through the recap in the rest of the article.

 

Interview highlights

  • Rural Areas and Poke Stop submissions discussed 
    • Submissions will be reopened and Hanke thinks the game is playable in rural areas 
    • “We don’t currently accept submissions for new locations, we’ve stopped that about a year ago because we had 15 million submissions and we believed we had pretty reasonable coverage, but our intent is to open that back up to allow submissions of new places.” – [31:01 – 31:13]
  • More group content in Pokemon GO is coming in the future
    • “[…] There’s another layer to it in Ingress, and you’re just beginning to see elements of it in Pokemon GO today, but you’ll see more in the future where the game design features that encourage people in groups, who may live even in different cities or maybe even live hundreds of thousands of miles away to cooperate.” – [36:25 – 36:43]
  • Trading and trainer battles discussed
    • Trading confirmed, trainer battles are still discussed
    • “[…] those are social activities. We’ve said in the past that trading is coming and player versus player battling is something we talked a lot internally. It very much is within the spirit of Pokemon GO, so it’s possible you’ll see that as well.” – [38:15 – 38:30]
  • Pokemon GO events will follow Ingress template

Complete interview recap

  • Niantic started as a Google company after Hanke tried to resign from Google
  • Pokemon GO was the next logical step after building the entirety of Ingress infrastructure
    • Google and Pokemon Company shared an office in a building in Tokio
    • Tsunekazu Ishihara, Pokemon Company CEO played Ingress with his wife
    • The conversation happened while Niantic was still under Google
      • It took around 8 months for Niantic to spin out of Google
      • Not everyone in Niantic team left Google – a number of devs stayed at Google
    • The entire Ingress infrastructure was rebuilt for Pokemon GO as the team learned from their previous mistakes
      • Google helped A LOT during the first few weeks with cloud infrastructure
  • In game purchases and payments are doing great
    • They expected the MAU (Monthly Active Users) numbers to be at the current level in the next four years
      • No one could have foreseen the user count
    • “It monetizes well” – [24:10]
  • There was a number of hack and DDOS attempts at the Niantic infrastructure
    • The media covered almost every news in meticulous details
    • Not all data from Ingress was used in Pokemon GO
  • They are experimenting with partners like McDonalds but they are cautious with it
    • They don’t want a lot of commercial events
  • The game should be playable in rural areas, however, there is a difference between the city and rural area
    • Rural Areas and Poke Stop submissions discussed 
      • Hanke highlighted that the goal is to be playable in small towns and in big cities
      • “It may not be everywhere, but we try to accommodate for that” – [31:00]
      • “We don’t currently accept submissions for new locations, we’ve stopped that about a year ago because we had 15 million submissions and we believed we had pretty reasonable coverage, but our intent is to open that back up to allow submissions of new places.” – [31:01 – 31:13]
      • Hanke admits there are places where there is not enough Poke Stops – [31:28]
  • Hanke is not sad that Pokemon GO overshadowed Ingress
    • He’s just happy both games take you outside
    • The social interaction in the games is amazing
  • The discovery mechanism for finding other players is by looking away from your phone
  • More group content in Pokemon GO is coming in the future
    • “[…] There’s another layer to it in Ingress, and you’re just beginning to see elements of it in Pokemon GO today, but you’ll see more in the future where the game design features that encourage people in groups, who may live even in different cities or maybe even live hunderds of thousands of miles away to cooperate.”
    • In Ingress you create links between portals, in Pokemon GO there are gyms
  • Hanke discussed briefly trading and trainer battles
    • “[…] those are social activities. We’ve said in the past that trading is coming and player versus player battling is something we talked a lot internally. It very much is within the spirit of Pokemon GO, so it’s possible you’ll see that as well.” – [38:15 – 38:30]
  • Pokemon GO will continue to evolve as an MMO game would
  • As a rural player, I am very happy to hear about their focus on rural areas. And I still manage to play both Pokémon and Ingress. 🙂

  • FINALLY! “Pokemon GO will continue to evolve as an MMO game”.