Dedicated for over a year pokemon go players have asked for the ability to use their collected monsters more like in traditional pokemon games, by trading and fighting directly with other players. Pokemon Company President Tsunekazu Ishihara confirmed to Bloomberg this week that those features were still planned for the game.
“We’ve only achieved 10 percent of what Pokémon and Niantic are trying to do, so in the future we will need to incorporate fundamental Pokémon experiences such as Pokémon trading and peer-to-peer battles and other opportunities,” the director said.
This isn’t the first time monster trade has been promised for the popular mobile game, which still had five million daily users on its first birthday in July. Those features were showcased in the game’s very first trailers and mentioned in interviews surrounding the game’s launch last year. But developer Niantic has been the mother of the matter in recent months, focusing instead on updates like Raid Battles and changes to the gym functionality. In a March Polygon interview, pokemon go Product manager Tatsuo Nomura said any sample trade in pokemon go should take place in person with nearby players, not over long distances. Still, Nomura said he saw trade as a way to solve the “local spawn problem,” which restricts many monsters to certain thematically appropriate regions in the real world. When trading was initially planned for the game, the hope was that for “some Pokémon you need to know someone or find someone who lives in certain regions and meet and exchange,” Nomura said.
Instead, the highly localized Pokémon stuck around while the trading features weren’t implemented. “So what do we do with that and the real world?” asked Ishihara rhetorically in the Bloomberg interview. “One vision is to have cold Pokémon in a cold climate, but that would also mean that people born on a tropical island can’t catch them. So we’re always thinking about how to strike the right balance between game design , how our Pokémon should exist, and how players feel about their collections.”
More than location issues, trade and face-to-face combat will be a way for players to interact directly with each other rather than just playing side by side against a shared game world. That could be a good way for current players to encourage their distant friends to join (or re-join) the game, giving a potentially viral shot in the arm to a game that uses 80 percent of the time. has lost its top player base.