Stock up on Pokeballs and Super Potions, because starting this summer, Pokemon GO players can catch legendary Pokemon (colloquially known as legendaries) and participate in PvP battles.
The Brazillian newspaper O Globo recently interviewed Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Niantic, Mathieu de Fayet, and he had some choice words regarding the future of Pokemon GO.
“Pokemon GO has been downloaded 650 million times, but now it has 65 million active players. How do you keep players interested in the game? Due to the large success of the game, we had to delay some planned innovations. Right now we are working on some that are due to hit this summer (in the northern hemisphere), such as giving more value to the choice of the teams, releasing Legendary Pokemon and introducing PvP. One thing we learned with Ingress is that the game can sustain itself if we are able to create social interactions among players, and we are working on that.” This quote was translated by Go Nintendo.
PvP battles and legendaries have been staples of the Pokemon franchise since 1996 and were touted in the Pokemon GO announcement trailer. However, these features have yet to be implemented. While some players would argue that the game’s gyms are a form of PvP, they lack the 6v6 layout of traditional Pokemon battles. Furthermore, gym Pokemon are controlled by an AI and not by a live person. PvP battles might finally encourage Pokemon GO players to actively seek out fellow players.
Legendaries, on the other hand, are badges of honor among Pokemon gamers. These Pokemon are some of the most sought after in the franchise due to their rarity, low catch rates, and powerful stats. The addition of these powerful creatures will inspire more people to play Pokemon GO and could bring back gamers who stopped playing.
De Fayet’s vague statement that Niantic will soon add “more value to the choice of the teams” could mean just about anything. This “value” could consist of character customization options unique to each team or rare Pokemon that gather around gyms and are only visible to the the team that controls the gym. For all we know, team loyalties might eventually determine how frequently gamers encounter certain Pokemon or if trainers encounter them at all; I would not be surprised if Moltres can only be caught by members of Team Valor, which admittedly would encourage trading once that feature is implemented.
While no official date was given, “this summer” implies these features will be added between Wednesday, June 21st and Friday, September 22nd. Unless, of course, some bug or glitch prevents the features from working as intended, as is usually the case in these kinds of games. Regardless, the promise of PvP and legendaries alone will increase the Pokemon GO player base.