Niantic's Pokemon GO is dominating social media at the moment, but half the time it seems more connected to conversations of "is it running?" or "is it down?".
Still, when the game is running it's quite addictive, and there is a fun experience to be had. Niantic is using knowledge learned from the building of their other game, Ingress, to figure out the best way for Pokemon to grow and adapt. One of the biggest things the team learned from Ingress was the popularity of the more social aspects of the game, as the team told Gamespot.
"Our original thesis was that people would just go out with their friends and play" said Archit Bhargava, who has been with Niantic since 2011. "But what ended up happening in small towns and smaller cities was that people would meet other people in the world while playing Ingress, and friendships started emerging and that social aspect became the biggest thing. That became a new tenant for us: that we wanted to encourage social fun, which is why we started doing a lot of events."
It makes sense then that the team has plans to introduce similar features into Pokemon GO, but those features are still in their infancy.
"The multiplayer aspect is still something we're exploring, we're still trying to figure out what's the best way to do that", Bhargava admitted. "So far we've learned that multiplayer battles are a lot of fun. When two people from different teams show up at a rival gym, if they collaborate and both have their Pokémon deployed to battle at the same time, they can take down a stronger gym faster."
If they can manage to keep the servers up, eventually fans will want that extra layer of interaction with other local trainers, and the team is attempting to figure out the best way to implement those ideas.
"But we're trying our best to rethink what the experience should be; what that real-world Pokémon experience should be like. Obviously we're learning from Ingress, but it's going to be a pretty different game. We have a vision for Pokémon, we're gonna execute on it, but we're gonna learn based on what the community reaction is."
Ultimately the users of the game will have a large part in deciding where the experience goes from here, but it's up to Niantic to make sure that the game can support the gameplay it already contains. Hopefully, they can get these issues out of the way soon, which should allow the team to start work on making these ideas a reality.