The Pokémon Company today released more information about its upcoming augmented reality mobile game Pokémon GO, which blends the series' trademarked collectible gameplay with location-based discovery thanks to the technology of modern smartphones. As in its original September announcement, the company reiterated that the app itself will be free at launch, with in-app purchases available to round out the experience.
Pokémon GO works by notifying players when they're near a catchable Pokémon, and now the company is explaining how the catching process works: gamers will use their smartphone to "take aim" at where the Pokémon is waiting and use one of their collected Poké Balls to capture it. As is normal in games of the series, there's a chance for the capture to fail or for the Pokémon to run away before it can be caught.
There will also be a new feature called PokéStops, "located at interesting places, such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments," that act as a sort of rest stop for users to restock on Poké Balls and Pokémon Eggs -- which use the pedometer of a smartphone to hatch after a certain number of steps. The more the game is played, the faster players can level up their Trainer and discover higher-level Pokémon in the wild while gaining access to more powerful items.
Similar to PokéStops, Pokémon GO will use the well-known feature of the Gym to provide community hubs in certain locations around the globe. But these areas won't be as peaceful-minded as PokéStops, with players able to challenge the ownership of a Gym and potentially gain control over it with their team of Pokémon. Although it will lack the story-driven experience of a proper game in the series, these features hint that there will be some sort of structure to Pokémon GO.
At a certain point in the game, you'll be asked to join one of three teams. Once you join a team, you'll gain the ability to assign Pokémon you've caught to empty Gym locations or to a location where a team member has placed one of his or her Pokémon. Like PokéStops, Gyms can be found at real locations in the world. Each player can place only one Pokémon at a particular Gym, so you're encouraged to work with others on the team to build up a strong defense.
If a Gym is already claimed by another team, you can challenge that Gym using your own Pokémon. Using the Pokémon you've caught, engage in battle with the defending Pokémon at the Gym to claim control.
The Pokémon Company reiterated that all of "the features, available languages, design, and overall appearance" of the game are not yet final, but a trial run is currently being conducted in Japan to iron out the experience before a wide release, which has also yet to be confirmed.
There's been a lot of news surrounding traditionally console exclusive companies emerging into the smartphone gaming market, including Pokémon parent company Nintendo, and now Sony, which just announced it'll be bringing some of its characters to smartphones beginning in Japan and Asia.
Check out The Pokémon Company's official press release for more information on Pokémon GO.