Thanks to the magic of Google Translate and Shuji’s help, we managed to translate huge portions of the interview and let’s just say that things are about to get really exciting. The full interview (in Japanese) can be found here.
- A huge event is planned for summer of 2017! The in-game mechanics for this event are currently being developed. Raids are rumored to be the mechanic in question.
- PvP, Trading and Raids are in development, but the release dates for these features are not yet finalised. Niantic confirmed that cooperative gameplay is coming this Spring.
- More small scale events like the Water Festival are planned throughout the year
- Niantic is working on partnering with local governments for large scale events and promotions, similar to how Lapras event was held in the Tohoku Region
- A new concept of a wearable device that brings AR closer to the real world is discussed, but it’s development is held back by technology currently
Full interview report
The interview was conducted by K-Tai Watch, a Japanese news outlet, with Niantics Japanese Staff: Yoshiji Kawashima (Asian General Manager) and Kenji Suka (Asian General Marketing Manager).
A large part of the interview deals with the future of Ingress and the upcoming Ingress 2.0 update. We are not covering that part of the interview as it’s not strictly related to Pokémon GO. For those interested, Fev Games covered that part in depth.
Right of the bat, Kawashima drops the bomb on the upcoming summer event. In Kawashima’s words, a huge event is planned for this summer, unlike anything we’ve seen so far.
He also confirmed that engineers are working hard on new in-game mechanics in support of that event:
I hope you are looking forward to this huge event this summer. Please look forward to it. Engineers are working hard now so that new functions can be implemented. – Mr. Kawashima
Continuing the interview, both Suka and Kawashima confirmed that efforts with local municipalities in Japan are going well, mostly referencing the success of the Lapras event in tsunami affected regions.
There has been a lot of interest for similar projects overseas, but the “Japanese trial”, as they’re calling it, is not over yet. Both Kawashima and Suka confirmed that the Lapras event was a major success, but it’s yet to be determined how well that translates into numbers.
“It’s a win-win situation for the players and the local government” – Suka
— 社畜のよーだ (@katou443) November 11, 2016
More information was shared on Niantic’s interest for wearable devices, highlighting that the GO Plus is just the beginning of wearable device development. A wearable device was developed for Ingress, but it was not wearable enough.
In line with what Hanke shared during MWC 2017, a truly wearable device will help augment what you see, similar to Microsoft’s Hololens. Currently, the technology is not there yet for an affordable head mounted display, but their estimate is that major developments in that field will happen in the next two years.
Niantic believes that wearable devices will become the bridge that connects Augmented Reality with the real world. They refused to comment when asked if Niantic is working on a similar wearable device.