Niantic CEO John Hanke spoke candidly about the future of Pokemon Go yesterday at an undisclosed high school, revealing new information about Legendary Pokemon, 1v1 battling, and the future of the popular mobile game.
While details about the event are scarce, a Redditor on the Silph Road subreddit (a community dedicated to researching Pokemon Go data) gave a few details about Hanke's comments. While WWG was initially skeptical, the Silph Road's chief moderator was able to confirm the accuracy of his account. We're waiting on confirmation from Niantic, but it appears that this is accurate and contains a couple pieces of new information.
Here's a look at some of Hanke's comments and what they mean for Pokemon Go:
The biggest news coming out of the event was that Niantic was working on a way to release Legendary Pokemon "in the not too distant future." We knew that Legendary Pokemon were probably coming in 2017, but this is the strongest confirmation to date that the powerful Pokemon are being added to Pokemon Go. According to the report, the Legendary Pokemon would be "handled with care," presumably because of how highly anticipated they've become and how much they'll affect the game.
Interestingly enough, Hanke also mentioned that there would be limits to Legendary Pokemon within gyms. That makes sense (as Legendary Pokemon will have higher stats than almost every other Pokemon in Pokemon Go) and opens up two distinct possibilities: that gyms will only be able to have one Legendary Pokemon as a gym defender, or that gyms will only have one Legendary Pokemon of each species.
1v1 Battling and Gyms
Hanke also acknowledged that Niantic was actively working towards bringing 1v1 battling to the game, noting that it's among the most asked features in the game. Hanke said they hoped to have 1v1 battling ready to roll out "pretty soon," which could mean that we'll see it as early as this summer.
Hanke also repeated that Niantic was working on Pokemon Go's gym system, although he declined to give any details. Other Niantic employees have stated that the gym system is currently the worst part of Pokemon Go.
Pokemon with Special Moves
John Hanke also seemingly confirmed that both Smeargle and Delibird haven't yet been added to Pokemon Go because of their unique moves. Smeargle can use the move Sketch to permanently learn another Pokemon's move, while Delibird's Present can either injure or heal an opposing Pokemon at random. Hanke didn't name either Pokemon outright when talking about Pokemon with special moves, but he did confirm when they were mentioned by someone in the audience.
This probably means that they plan on giving Smeargle and Delibird its own animation and abilities, similar to what they did with Ditto last November. And here we thought that Delibird was just getting held back for Christmas.
Niantic's planned conversion of Smeargle and Delibird into the game probably also means that they'll identify other problematic Pokemon in later generations. Several Pokemon Go fansites have commented on Slaking (a Gen 3 Pokemon with amazing stats, but hindered in the main games by the ability to use moves once every other turn) as a potential problem for the game, but we're confident that Niantic will figure out how to add Slaking without breaking their own gym system.
This probably seems obvious, but Hanke did note that they planned to eventually bring every Pokemon into Pokemon Go. Hanke said they had a longterm plan for Pokemon Go and that Niantic hoped to keep the game running for 20 to 25 years. That last bit sounds like a bit of a joke, but it's nice to know that Pokemon Go won't be stopping with Gen 2.