As exciting as the additions of Generation 2 Pokemon and Legendary Pokemon were for Pokemon Go players earlier this year, they only scratch the surface of what players expect from the game in the weeks and months to come. Tsunekazu Ishihara, president of The Pokemon Company, expressed as much in a recent interview with Bloomberg, during which he reconfirmed two of the most anticipated upcoming features.
Speaking with Bloomberg this week about the future of the Pokemon franchise, Ishihara explained that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to content and features for Pokemon Go:
“We’ve only accomplished 10 percent of what Pokémon and Niantic are trying to do, so going forward we will have to include fundamental Pokémon experiences such as Pokémon trading and peer-to-peer battles, and other possibilities.”
This isn’t the first time monster trading has been promised for the hit mobile game, which still had five million daily users as of its first anniversary in July. Those features were shown off in the game’s very first trailers and mentioned in interviews around the game’s launch last year. But developer Niantic has been mum on the issue in recent months, focusing instead on updates like Raid Battles and changes to gym functionality.
In a Polygon interview from March, Pokémon Go Product Manager Tatsuo Nomura said that any eventual monster trading in Pokémon Go would have to take place in person with nearby players, not across long distances. Still, Nomura said he saw trading as a way to solve the “local spawn issue,” which limits many monsters to certain thematically appropriate regions in the real world. When trading was initially planned for the game, the hope was that for “some Pokémon, you have to know someone or find someone who lives in certain regions and meet and exchange,” Nomura said.
Instead, the heavily localized Pokémon stuck around while the trading features have remained unimplemented. “So what do we do with those and the real world?” Ishihara asked rhetorically in the Bloomberg interview. “One view is to have chilly Pokémon in a cold climate, but then that would also mean that people born on a tropical island won’t be able to catch them. So we are always thinking of how to find the right balance between game design, how our Pokémon should exist, and how players feel about their collections.”
More than location issues, trading and personal battling will be a way to get players to interact with each other directly rather than simply playing along each other against a shared game world. That could be a good way for current players to encourage their far-off friends to join (or rejoin) the game, giving a potential viral shot in the arm to the game.