Pokemon Go‘s recent update adds a major new feature called the buddy system, something that fundamentally alters the way the game is played. Seeing as this came two months after the app launched, many have started to wonder exactly how long the Pokemon Go phenomenon will last and how many more updates we should expect. According to the game’s creator, Niantic Labs is just getting started.
In a recent interview with Tech Crunch, John Hanke, CEO of Niantic, said that Pokemon Go is currently only a fraction of what they want it to be.
“We’ve always looked at it as a game where the game is going to be developed over the next several years,” Hanke said. “We got the minimum viable product out into the marketplace. It’s a tip of the iceberg in terms of where we ultimately want to take the game, so it will change and evolve substantially over the next several years.”
Hanke pointed to Niantic’s previous game, Ingress, as an example of the future of Pokemon Go. That augmented-reality game launched in 2012 but continues to receive updates to this day, with major group events often taking place in real life. We should expect, then, Pokemon Go to keep receiving support for years into the future, as well as for there to be major social events meant to bring the community together. Don’t expect it to be abandoned in a few months’ time.
In terms of what’s coming down the line in the immediate future, Hanke was asked about the addition of player vs. player battles in this interview. Although he expressed interest in adding this feature, it does not seem like this is currently in active development. Hanke did confirm, though, that the company plans to continue releasing updates about once every two weeks. This was previously stated as their goal, though the recent buddy update came about three weeks after the prior update.
Pokemon Go‘s popularity has certainly declined over time, but there are still a substantial amount of daily active users, and in this interview, Hanke seemed quite happy with the game’s current status.
“What we saw is this huge influx of everybody in the world trying the game,” Hanke said. He went on to say that although the number of users has plateaued, “…There are plenty of people playing the game, trust me. Our server bill will attest to that.”
The next major addition to Pokemon Go is Pokemon Go Plus, a new wearable accessory that will launch on September 16th. After that, an app will be heading to Apple Watch later this year, and Hanke says that there will probably be support for other smartwatches like Android Wear sometime in the future.