In Famitsu last week, Niantic went more in-depth with the origins of
Pokemon GO. The magazine caught up with Setsuto Murai, representative
president of Niantic Japan and Kento Suga, marketing manager of Niantic
Famitsu: I think with the practical use of location
information, Ingress became a game that gives birth to a whole new
genre. Like with Ingress, Pokemon GO, which will also practically use
position information, has been announced to be developed by Niantic. How
did this project come to be realized?
Murai: We’ve touched about it briefly before (when talking about
Ingress), but before we went independent, we were a group in charge of
[handling] Google Maps in Google. Do you remember that we had a “Pokemon
Challenge” for April Fools in 2014?
Famitsu: Yes. It’s when the ability to search for Pokemon appearing
in Google Maps, and you could get Pokemon on the map. I see, so that’s
where you became acquainted.
Murai: Yes. That Pokemon Challenge was a chance for us to be able to
build relations with people at Pokemon, and then (Pokemon) president
(Tsunekazu) Ishihara and John (Hanke, CEO of Niantic) were able to meet
and talk. At that time both of their thoughts and visions were also very
close, and as a union of their spirit, the talk became “Let’s do
something together in the future”.
Famitsu: When president Ishihara and CEO John Hanke met, was Ingress already released?
Murai: Yes. It was just released, and barely anybody in Japan knew
about Ingress yet at that time. However, president Ishihara already
played it, and he talked a lot with John.
Famitsu: So what about the chance meeting for Pokemon Challenge
itself? I remember it was a very surprising collaboration between Google
Murai: In Google, there’s a culture where the staff release ideas for
April Fools, then they make their own teams to realize those. But for
Pokemon Challenge, it was a staff member named Tatsuo Nojima who pulled
out that idea, and he became the center of the development.
Suga: I have some acquaintances by chance, so I became the mediator between Google and The Pokemon Company.
Murai: Right now, Nomura is a product manager at Niantic who is involved in Pokemon GO’s development.
Famitsu: One could say it’s a large-scale sense of fun just for April Fools…
Suga: I think that kind of culture is one of Google’s assets.
Murai: As a result of that Niantic was born, and saying ‘that sense
of fun got connected to products like Ingress and Pokemon GO’ wouldn’t
be too exaggerated.
Famitsu: What do you think about the game app market from hereafter?
Murai: I think the big reason why we provide a location-based
platform is precisely because in-game apps from hereafter, by inserting
the essence of location-based, shall generate further fun factor, thus
they could go even higher. We at Ingress would like to show that
possibility. In about 2-3 years from now, we think game apps that can
only be done in smartphones will become the mainstream. By including
location features on existing IPs, more people will be able to enjoy it,
and thus we should be able to make a mechanism that can expand the
market even further.
Suga: Actually, there is also a concept of location in [current
conventional] games, isn’t it? In RPGs you walk around maps, but what if
that were real-life places… For example when you turn in the corner,
you may feel a change in your heartbeat, wondering if a Pokemon may come
out. Which means, even in conventional games, adding location features
would add new charms to them.
Murai: By inserting the location feature in Pokemon, we wonder what
kind of chemical reaction will occur. That’s one of the points we’re
excited about with Pokemon GO.
#200.5 - Misdreavus love to frighten people by playing mischievous tricks on them during the night. These Pokemon get their nourishment from the fear they absorb into their red, gem-like orbs; and despite their need to scare others, Misdreavus rarely do so with mean or dark intentions. As they age, Misdreavus will begin to shed their old orbs, and grow new, elongated orbs that can store more energy. To help give their Misdreavus enough energy to evolve, trainers can expose their Pokemon to a Dusk Stone.