Pokémon GO, released on July 6th this month, has become a phenomenal success; it has become such a large success, in fact, that San Diego Comic-Con staff realized they had a problem on their hands—the panel for the game was originally scheduled for room 25ABC, a small room for less than 500 people. With how popular the mobile app had become, the space given for the panel no longer reflected the interest; SDCC staff decided to bring out the big gun, Hall H. The hall is an actual hangar that can hold thousands and thousands of attendees; this sacred space is usually for panels on the scale of DC and Marvel. The best part? The hall was still filled to capacity, with people pouring out the doors. People wanted the newest info on their precious game… and maybe a chance at a rare catch.
A big part of the anticipation for the panel was partly due to the way Niantic, creator of the game, had their former game Ingress operated: big reveals at special events… like Comic-Con. Being that Pokémon GO is largely built on and expanded from Ingress, people were expectant. As anticipation for the panel built, a bombshell dropped in the form of a tweet:
— Phil DeFranco (@PhillyD) July 24, 2016
Youtuber Phil DeFranco tweeted out that message. For those unaware, in the first generation of Pokémon games there were three legendary birds: Moltres, Articuno, and Zapdos. These three birds are essential to the lore of the newest game, as they are mascots for the game’s three respective player teams, Valor, Mystic, and Instinct. This tweet hinted that one of those Pokémon may be catchable during the panel. Well… turns out, not so much. Apparently anticipation had built so much, game servers in the area were crashing—a known problem to players of the game—and the team had to work up to thirty minutes before the panel just to get them back online. People in the crowd began chanting “Mewtwo, mewtwo!” and “show us Moltres!”. Finally, Niantic’s founder John Hanke, present at the panel, had to just give everyone the news.
“We’re going to get there, but there’s no new Pokemon today.”
These were the words that dashed many a dream for SDCC con-goers, but there was still a panel to listen to, and exciting new things to reveal. For example, those three teams mentioned earlier finally got their leaders in the names of Candela, Blanche, and Spark.
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) July 24, 2016
They also revealed that the game had launched in Japan, and that a new feature there is sponsored Pokéstops, or more simply, the ability for trainers to battle one on one if they are in close proximity to each other. The feature is coming to English speaking territories soon. John Hanke also revealed that the game is not nearly close to where they intend to take it, and is in fact at only about 10% of their intended goal; however, those aforementioned server issues are their first priority before major moves towards crazier features. Some of the features they intend to add to the game, when possible, include Pokémon breeding, trading, and the ability to catch those legendaries everyone was clamoring for.
Sure, maybe players left Hall H a little disappointed they weren’t able to be the first among their friends with a legendary Pokémon, but Niantic has given us an awesome glimpse into the future of the game, and how it will slowly crawl its way to resemble the full Pokémon experience in real life.