Pokemon Go Feature Updates Discussed, Could Let You Assign Gyms

Immediate plan for Pokemon Go is to add trading, says exec.

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Pokemon Go developer Niantic has discussed the future of its augmented-reality mobile game, specifically one feature that could be carried over from the studio's previous game, Ingress

Speaking in an interview with Game Informer, Niantic founder John Hanke was asked how the studio picks PokeStops and gyms. According to Hanke, this feature was "the result of three years worth of work at Ingress."

"Ingress is also a game based around locations. Ingress is a sci-fi game, the locations are puzzles in Ingress, players can control portals to power them up, to link them together, to form fields, or two teams," he explained. "These portals--when we started that project with Google--we seeded that database of global locations, with historical markers, and a database of public artwork, and statues.

"There were a few hundred thousand of them ... And we established some guidelines: It should be safe and publicly accessible; it should be a work of art, important piece of architecture, or unique local business; and then we had a group of operations personnel that reviewed those submissions and approved the ones that seemed to meet our criteria."

A subset of the data the Ingress portal mapping process yielded was used for gyms and PokeStops. Although Niantic has since stopped taking portal submissions for Ingress, Hanke said it is "actively working on a way to re-enable submissions." This could carry over to Pokemon Go, but Hanke didn't commit to the idea.

"Whether or not we extend that within the Pokemon Go app or not, I don't know at this point," he said. "We've been working [on a] crowd-sourced, user-voting solution so that we can re-enable submissions and with the help of users [to] process new ones. But, no definitive timeline on that, it’s just something we are working on, though."

Speaking more generally, Hanke said Niantic is now focusing on "enhancing and improving Pokemon Go."

He continued: "It is an MMO, so it is something we're committed to regular updates and that. There will be new clients and server iterations pushed bi-weekly."

The bi-weekly iterations were described as "a general rule of thumb" and an idea of the tempo Niantic plans to update the game at. As previously indicated, in the near-term, it plans to add trading as a new feature "fairly soon," along with further gameplay depth to PokeStops and gyms.

"You can add things like a lure to a PokeStop today that sort of modifies the PokeStop and causes it to attract more Pokémon it," he said. "There is some thinking about how to further modify and evolve PokeStops and gyms. Players will be able to shape them and add functionality to them by working collaboratively together, so that’s an area that we’ll be spending quite a bit of effort over the coming weeks and months on."

Pokemon Go launched in July for iOS and Android devices in the US. The game's international rollout has been "paused" as Niantic Labs addresses the server issues. According to "people familiar with plans for the game," it will launch in Europe, Japan, and other Asian nations "within a few days."

Pokemon Go is estimated to have generated $14 million since its launch. Other reports have said Pokemon Go is now bigger than Tinder in the US and is closing in on Twitter when it comes to daily active users.

For lots more on Pokemon Go, check out GameSpot's roundup of everything you need to know. Keep checking back with GameSpot for more on Pokemon Go.

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