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  • The Tech Behind Pokemon Go
Technology Articles > Entertainment > Games > The Tech Behind Pokemon Go

Nintendo’s newest mobile game, Pokemon Go!, has taken off like wildfire. While true Nintendo fans always had faith that the company would put out something amazing when it did finally go mobile, nobody could have predicted exactly what that would be. Nintendo put out a virtual Pokemon world where gamers could ‘catch’ Pokemon that appear in the real world.

The game has gone viral. The new Nintendo mobile game generates $1.5 million in revenue daily for Nintendo - all of that money coming from in-app purchases. Users have to purchase various items in order to train a caught Pokemon, and there’s no point in catching a Pokemon unless it can be trained, so Nintendo has come up with a really clever marketing plan here.

But ‘Pokemon Go!’ is more than clever marketing too. There’s a lot of tech behind the scenes that Nintendo has gotten very, very, right.

Things that Make Pokemon Go Tick

The company behind this game is Niantic. The CEO of Niantic, John Hanke, was once part the company Keyhole. Keyhole is the company that Google purchased in order to create Google Earth. Hanke and many of his other Niantic team members were well versed in accurate mapping from Google Earth days.

Before working with Nintendo to create the new game, Niantic created the virtual reality game Ingress. Ingress was officially launched in 2011, but the game didn’t get that much press at the time. Ingress is a virtual reality game that asked users to map out various historical sites. Niantic used the information from Ingress to create and map out Pokemon Go.

Ingress Players Map All

Niantic asked Ingress players to submit locations that players thought were of note or were important. The company got around 15 million submissions worldwide. There are currently 5 million locations worldwide that have been approved to be a part of the Pokemon Go game. That’s a lot of different places where you can find a Pokemon to tame and train at the Pokemon gym.

Without really knowing it, Ingress users really created the basis and foundation for Pokemon Go. Nintendo is the name on the game that will get the game press coverage and make the game popular, but none of this could have happened without Niantic - and without Ingress.

While the Ingress game isn’t as much fun as Pokemon (because, let’s face it, you have to have those cute Pokemon in order to make this game interesting), it’s still worth looking at if you want to see where Pokemon Go began.

Where to Spot Your Pokemon

Niantic used the Ingress mapping to determine which Pokemon go where. It’s not set in stone, but you’ll basically find land dwellers in land areas and water dwellers in watery areas. As far as Pikachu goes, well, you’ll have to figure out what his characteristics are to catch him - he may just be where he likes to be the most.

The Pokemon Go project took years for Niantic to build. The company had to study each Pokemon character perfectly in order to place them correctly around the world - not to mention mapping out every area.