September 10, 2015

News From the Pokémon GO Announcement

Get all the details about what was discussed at the live Pokémon GO press event in Japan.

The Pokémon GO announcement brought major figures from the world of Pokémon, Nintendo, and Niantic together to unveil lots of exciting information. Take a look at a transcript of the announcement.

  • Tsunekazu Ishihara, President and CEO, The Pokémon Company

  • John Hanke, Founder, Niantic, Inc.

  • Junichi Masuda, Game Director, GAME FREAK inc.

  • Shigeru Miyamoto, Senior Managing Director, Nintendo Co., Ltd.

Mr. Ishihara: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedules to come here. Today, I'd like to announce a new Pokémon project.

We haven't really done this type of formal press conference before, but for this project in particular, I wanted to speak to you all about it directly.

To tell you the truth, I have been working on this project for about two years along with Nintendo's Mr. Iwata, and I really hoped we could make the announcement together. That desire is part of why I decided to hold this conference today.

Now, I would like to reveal what this new project is.

First, please take a look at this video. [See above.]

What do you think?

As you could tell from the video, our new project is a Pokémon game on smartphones. We're calling it Pokémon GO. A new team was formed in order to create Pokémon GO. The development of this project will be handled by Niantic Labs which began as an internal startup at Google. As was recently announced, Niantic Labs just became an independent company called Niantic, Inc. The Pokémon Company will act as a partner with Niantic, Inc. to move forward with the creation of Pokémon GO.

Not just that, but one more company—Nintendo—has also joined us as a partner on this project.

So today, I would like to talk about this project that Niantic, Inc., Nintendo, and The Pokémon Company are working on.

First, I would first like to explain how such a project got started in the first place.

Many of you already know this, but with the Pokémon games, players can use the Pokémon they caught in the game to trade or battle with their real life friends. A few weeks ago in Boston, we held the Pokémon World Championships, in which the number one players of both the video game and trading card game are determined. As was demonstrated there, the Pokémon that exist inside the game serve as catalysts for real life communication and social interaction with players from across the globe.

Furthermore, the Pokémon games have always used real-world locations such as the Hokkaido and Kanto regions of Japan, as well as New York and Paris as inspiration for the settings in which the in-game adventures take place. The world of Pokémon in which player's adventures take place is very similar to our own world. This alternate world is created in a way that it's very easy to imagine them by looking at a real-life map.

And it has always been our goal for player actions, such as searching for or trading Pokémon, to promote socialization across both the virtual world and the real world, in order to further enrich both.

And, some time ago, when I was working on concepts for the future of Pokémon, a certain individual introduced a game to me that had just come out of beta test. It was called Ingress.

Ingress was very impressive to me and I found myself really getting into the game. I also felt that it shared a common philosophy with Pokémon and that with the developer, Niantic, we could create a new type of Pokémon game.

I would like to introduce the person who first showed Ingress to me. That person is Mr. John Hanke, CEO of Niantic.

Mr. Hanke: Thank you for allowing us to be part of this. Hi, I'm John Hanke, and I'm the founder of Niantic Labs.

I am incredibly excited to be here today with Ishihara-san and the Pokémon Company to talk about this exciting new product. In my first encounters with Mr. Ishihara I was so happy that he began playing Ingress and actually became a high level Ingress Agent very quickly. I discovered that we had a common vision for building a whole new kind of Pokémon game. It was very clear to me that Mr. Ishihara loved games and that he was very open to exploring new ideas.

We founded Niantic, in Google, back in 2010, with the goal of encouraging people to come together to explore the outside world in a fun, social way and maybe learn something about their community in the process.

Our first game, Ingress, has brought together millions of people around the world in a game where a walk in the park or a trip to work can become part of an epic Sci-Fi battle for the fate of humanity.

In Ingress, places like historical sites, monuments, statues, even local businesses, are transformed into “Portals” from another universe which players battle to control.

But the really exciting part of the game is the real-world social aspect of it. Players meet up in the real world to play together, to go on adventures together and, about once a month, in cities all around the world, they come together for massive events that combine urban exploration, gameplay, and teamwork in a festival-like atmosphere. It's wonderful to see players form new friendships—sometimes even romances—marriages, and this year we've seen our first babies born from couples who met playing Ingress.

Today, that vision for a new kind of gameplay is taking a huge step forward. We are working closely with The Pokémon Company and Nintendo to bring the best parts of Ingress and Pokémon together to create a whole new style of Pokémon game.

As I mentioned, this was a vision shared by Mr. Ishihara and it was also a very important vision of the late Mr. Iwata. It was our collective goal that this be a wholesome, fun game that families can enjoy together. It would be an excuse to go outside, get some fresh air, and maybe discover new places together.

For the first time, with this game, Pokémon are going to roam free in the real world. Pokémon GO will allow players to capture Pokémon who inhabit parks, shopping areas, sidewalks, and the countryside in places all around the world. Imagine discovering a Squirtle hiding along the waterfront in San Francisco, or a Bulbasaur at Shinjuku Station, or even Pikachu, hiding by the Eiffel Tower. I personally love to explore new places and I can't wait to play this game.

We have some great collaborators on this project. It's my pleasure to introduce a game legend. We're thrilled to be working with him. He's one of the original creators of Pokémon. Please give a warm welcome to... Masuda-san.

Mr. Masuda: Thank you, John! I'm Junichi Masuda from GAME FREAK, where I work as a game director.

I've joined this project to help with the setting, game design, and music. The day has finally come for Pokémon to make their appearance on Earth! Pokémon live in all manner of places around the world. Players will search for them, catch them with Poké Balls and use them to battle each other. We're making a game that has depth within its simplicity, and hope it will be a game that's enjoyable by players of a wide range of ages. In my mind, Pokémon are mysterious creatures that aren't like pets, but are closer to humans and can be our friends. What kind of powers might these Pokémon have? Where would they live? I'm hard at work alongside Niantic to bring out the untapped possibilities of Pokémon, and in order to do so, we're not limiting ourselves to adhering to the traditional conventions of Pokémon.

Of course, at the same time, I'm also thinking up ways that this project might connect with the next entry in the main series Pokémon games. 2016 marks the 20th year since Pokémon was born. It's going to be a very meaningful year for me, and I am really excited to be able to participate in this project. I hope everyone will also be excited for Pokémon GO.

Mr. Hanke: Thank you, Masuda-san. I think you can see that we have a spectacular team and I can assure you that we are already working very, very hard to make an amazing, brand new Pokémon experience.

Mr. Ishihara: John, Mr. Masuda, thanks so much. I can't wait to play it.

I mentioned at the beginning that I had been working with Mr. Iwata, and Nintendo is also deeply involved in this project.

There might have been a hint about their involvement in the video you just saw. I'd like to talk to you a bit more about that now.

These days, I think there are a lot of people who are always looking down at their phones and aren't paying attention to their surroundings. I hope that Pokémon GO will be enjoyed by players across a wide range of ages. Alongside Nintendo, we developed a device that allows players to engage with the game without constantly needing to stare down at their smartphone's screen. This is what we're calling Pokémon Go Plus. Pokémon GO Plus uses flashing LEDs and vibrations to notify the player of in-game events, such as the appearance of a nearby Pikachu, for example. It uses Bluetooth to pair with an iPhone or Android device. It transmits data back and forth, and by pressing the button in the center, certain simple actions, such as throwing a Poké Ball, can be performed.

We kept the functionality to a minimum to keep the device simple. There's no screen or voice guide. It can flash in a variety of colors and vibrate.

It's hard to communicate how the vibration works with words, but for everyone attending today, I think you can get a good idea from how your smartphones work in silent mode.

The main point of Pokémon GO Plus is to naturally let players know that something is happening. The reason is that we want players to not just look at their phones or Pokémon GO Plus, but also focus on their surroundings in the real world.

Of course, Pokémon GO can be enjoyed even without Pokémon GO Plus, but I think it will definitely be a must-have gadget for players who really want the added convenience and the ability to role play.

I've actually invited a guest today to tell you a little bit more about Pokémon GO Plus.

Let's welcome Mr. Miyamoto from Nintendo.

Mr. Miyamoto: Thanks for the introduction. I'm Miyamoto from Nintendo. Mario Maker just came out, so I'm here today to tell you all about it!

Joking aside (laughs), I actually came here today to tell you about what Mr. Iwata and Mr. Ishihara had been working on.

Mr. Masuda from GAME FREAK just mentioned it a moment ago, but next year it will have been 20 years since Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green, which I produced alongside Mr. Ishihara, was released. We sure have known each other for a long time!

Compared to Mario, I felt that Pokémon was a rookie, but that's no longer the case—it's really grown up now.

Mr. Ishihara: With Mario now having its 30th anniversary, and Pokémon about to enter its 20th anniversary, I don't think that we can ever catch up!

Mr. Miyamoto: The video played at the beginning really reminded me of the Pokémon Snap project that I worked on with Mr. Iwata. This time, instead of taking photos, we're going to actual places in the real world to catch Pokémon, but it definitely gives off a similar feeling.

Mr. Ishihara: That's right. I think it shares the same sense of being in the same space with a Pokémon and staring at it face to face.

Mr. Miyamoto: I also really liked the scene that showed the kid playing along with his dad. A dad can pair a Pokémon GO Plus with his smartphone and have his kid wear the device so they can enjoy catching Pokémon together.

Mr. Ishihara: Yeah, I think that might be the ideal way to play.

Mr. Miyamoto: The Pokémon GO Plus that I'm wearing just clips on, but the one Mr. Ishihara is wearing has a wrist band attached to it. Players can switch between the two depending on which style they prefer. When designing the device, we really focused on how players would look when using it.

Nintendo has created a wide variety of game devices over the years. I believe that all of them have had a common mission of expanding the gaming population. I think that Pokémon GO and Pokémon GO Plus, which we just announced today, represent another big step forward in accomplishing that mission.

I hope that players from a wide range of ages will be able to enjoy Pokémon GO using the Pokémon GO Plus device. I would like to thank our partners for creating this opportunity for us.

Ishihara: No, I should be the one thanking you, Mr. Miyamoto.

As you can see, Pokémon GO is different to most mobile applications, which are developed by a single company. Pokémon GO is our new project that utilizes location information technology; and starting with Niantic's John Hanke, GAME FREAK's Mr. Masuda, and Nintendo's Mr. Miyamoto, who joined us here today, we have many different partners working hard on its development.

I hope everyone looks forward to the day that they can play Pokémon GO on their own smartphone.

And with that, I would like to conclude today's conference. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules to come here today.

Pokémon GO
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