What’s next for Pokémon GO?

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We’ve observed some interesting changes and additions to the game in the past month. Niantic has been steadily delivering a crazy mix of features, events and quality of life improvements on a week to week basis, but the big question is: what’s next?

There is a number of things to consider when speculating what’s coming next in a game, but two things are always high priority:

  • Cost to build and release (time and/or money)
  • Impact on gameplay that’s currently in place, in terms of:
    • player engagement
    • longevity
    • excitement and profitability

Game studios who are understaffed, much like Niantic is, tend to delay releasing complex game systems in favour of simpler content updates. Here’s our two cents on the future of Pokémon GO content.

Trading coming soon? Well, maybe, but…

Trading is a book example of a feature that is not favoured to implement and release in the early stage of game development. It’s big, it’s costly to run and maintain and can be very error prone. It also requires a lot of code and tests to work properly.

If you think about scale and implementation, running and implementing a trading system in Pokémon GO is a lot like running a webshop like Amazon or eBay, but with only a few items.

It’s confirmed that trading is coming to Pokémon GO at one point, as it is an essential feature of any Pokémon game, but it will probably come after Generation 2 and more region exclusives release.

Generation 2 on 7th December? Sure, why not!

Pokémon GO Gen 2 release date leak
Pokémon GO Gen 2 release date leak shows 7th of December as a potential release date

Generation 2 is already in the code base (added in 0.45.0), it’s dormantly waiting to be unleashed. A recent leak showed an internal Starbucks e-mail that mentions the 7th of December as a release date for a new Pokémon generation. All of this, combined with the upcoming Christmas and New Year holiday season, looks very promising and likely to happen.

If you go back to the initial priority list for how game content and updates get selected, you’ll realise that a new Pokémon Generation ticks almost all of the favourable boxes!

It’s rather easy to implement, even as it requires a whole team effort. It also requires no additional game systems – it piggybacks on the existing Encounter, Gym and Battle infrastructure.

It re-engages the player base, gives the dev team a bit of breathing space to deal with implementing new game systems and it lasts for a while.

Overall, releasing content that gives you breathing room and gives your players something to do is one of the best business moves that a small company can do. It gives you time to recruit, train, test new code and your player base is engaged and happy.

New regional exclusives? Yes, of course!

Niantic has a history of referring to regions where exclusive Pokémon live as “natural habitats” for that Poké specie. Addition of new and exciting Poké habitats looks very promising for a future update.

Why should there be only 4 region exclusive habitats? In the Poké world, you can find a huge number of Pokémon in very small, limited areas!

A reddit user compiled a handy list of new region exclusives which we really liked:

  • Smeargle for Europe (it’s basically grown a beret on its head)
  • Milktank for North America (cowboys)
  • Dunsparce for Australia (they have all kinds of weird animals)
  • Qwillfish for Asia (it’s kind of a fugu fish, which is a Japanese delicacy)
  • Girafarig for Africa (giraffes)
  • Delibird for Antartica (it’s penguin-like)
  • Heracross for South America (they have all kinds of bugs in the rainforest. But I really don’t want Hera to be region-locked though)

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