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At GDC a few weeks ago, Niantic’s Dennis Hwang hosted a panel relating to Pokemon GO. Hwang touched on “the various UX and visual design choices that were shaped by a focus on real-world gaming, and how they led to a fun and accessible play experience for a diverse set of players across age and gender demographics.”

The full recording for Hwang’s session is now online. You can watch the full talk below.

Update 2 (3/24): Now live on iOS.

Update (3/23): Version 0.59.1 is now live on Android. Not up on iOS just yet.

Original (3/21): Niantic is rolling out another new update for Pokemon GO. Users on iOS should soon have access to version 1.29.1 while Android players will have their game updated to version 0.59.1.

According to Niantic, the 7-day ‘First PokeStop of the Day’ streak will now award a random Evolution item. Minor text fixes have also been implemented.


Pokemon GO’s new Water Festival began today. Tying into that, it seems that the game is offering something extra special for players.

Tons of reports are emerging of Shiny Magikarp and Shiny Gyarados appearing. We’re trying to obtain more details, but both definitely exist.

Here’s a look at Shiny Magikarp:


A new, limited-time celebration is kicking off in Pokemon GO today. Beginning at 1 PM PT / 4 PM ET / 8 PM in the UK / 9 PM in Europe, players can participate in the Water Festival.

Here’s an overview of the event:

“Get ready to make some waves in Pokémon GO! There’s a global Water Festival in progress, and Magikarp, Squirtle, Totodile, and friends are looking forward to celebrating with you! Starting today at 1 P.M. PDT, you’ll be more likely to encounter Magikarp, Squirtle, Totodile, and their evolutions all around the world. Additionally, when you’re out exploring areas where Water-type Pokemon more commonly appear, you’ll have a greater chance to encounter several of the Water-type Pokémon originally discovered in the Johto region, and maybe… you might even encounter Lapras.

Also, starting later today, you’ll notice a new avatar wardrobe item – the Magikarp Hat!”

The Pokemon GO Water Festival ends on March 29 at 1 PM PT / 4 PM ET / 9 PM in the UK / 10 PM in Europe.


At the Animation on Display convention this week, Niantic held a panel for Pokemon GO. It was hosted by David Hollin, the team’s technical artist / designer. Some interesting tidbits were shared about the game’s origins, future plans, and more.

Hollin said that Pokemon GO first began with throwing Pokeballs by pressing a button. Players didn’t have control over how far or curved your throw would be.

A big priority Niantic has for Pokemon GO is to improve the gym system. Studio CEO John Hanke recently spoke about the need to improve the gameplay, and that’s something senior product manager Tatsuo Nomura discussed with Polygon as well.

Nomura told the site:

“The gym portion [of Pokémon Go] needs a lot more work, and we are trying to improve it and make a bigger change to how the system works. Overall, I think we need a little bit more time to think through how we do it.”

“We needed to define [gyms] in a way that works in a mobile game. For example, we didn’t have … there’s no non-playable characters. That’s not how the game works. We’re an MMO, and we expect people to play with other people.”

“We expected more people to play that portion, and a lot of that is game balancing and just mechanics-wise, there’s some part of that that needs refinement.”

Niantic hasn’t shared a timetable as to when we can expect a new approach to gyms in Pokemon GO. The company does have a few updates planned for 2017 though, so it’s possible that there could be something by the end of the year. 


A small Pokemon GO update is making its way out to users as of today. Version 1.27.4 is out now on iOS while Android owners have access to version 0.57.4.

When we said this update is small, we meant it. Niantic says that the patch only implements minor text fixes.

This week, Wired’s German division conducted an interview with Niantic CEO John Hanke. Hanke was able to answer some important questions about plans for Pokemon GO in 2017 and more.

First, Hanke was asked about what fans can expect from Pokemon GO’s second big update this year. He confirms that “playing together and gym battles” will be primarily addressed.

“There are a couple of areas that need to be improved – one of them being playing together and gym battles. We released those in an incomplete state. We knew from Ingress that cooperation and planning can be a lot of fun. When people have a common goal, then that’s a strong incentive to meet up with friends or even with people you don’t know.”

“The gameplay in gym battles is very limited. They just don’t work as well as we wish they would. We will overhaul this aspect of the game to ensure more teamwork and to give people a bigger incentive to receive the rewards from gym battles.”

Pokemon GO experienced significant issues at launch. During the game’s first few days, the game had major connection problems. We knew that the huge influx of players was putting a strain on Pokemon GO’s servers, but now we have a better idea as to how much.

Niantic director of software engineering Ed Wu said during a GDC presentation that Niantic came up with anticipated network traffic based on the player base and the growth curve for other popular mobile games. That was in addition to a “ludicrous” estimate of five times that number. It wasn’t enough though, as Niantic exceeded its network traffic estimates for the entire world just a few hours after Pokemon GO launched in Australia and New Zealand alone.

Wu said:

“We knew that we had something special on our hands when we nearly exceeded our peak worldwide capacity — the expected number — in a couple of hours and were trending well on the way towards that five times, ‘ludicrous’ number on what we thought would be less than five percent of our total world-wide … install base in. That was the point at which I called in the cavalry … at Google.”

According to Wu, Pokemon GO’s peak traffic was roughly 50 times more than they had initially estimated.


Niantic CEO John Hanke previously indicated that Pokemon GO’s lore would be expanded in the coming months. However, in an interview with Polygon, senior product manager Tatsuo Nomura mentioned that it isn’t a top priority currently. That’s simply because Niantic is “a very small team and we can only do so much at once.”

Nomura added:

“It’s not like we’re forgetting [about the characters], but it’s just resource-wise, what we are doing next … Do we do multiplayer and gen two versus putting out more narrative?. So far, it’s not being our focus, but we are not leaving it behind. I personally still want to think a lot more stories behind them and narratives.”

Niantic is currently focusing on building new functionality of Pokemon GO. This includes trading as well as other multiplayer features.


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