The story of Pokémon GO is a rocky one, filled with tumultuous beginnings and fraught with tension between players and developers. But John Hanke, founder and CEO of Niantic, seems to believe that the sailing has gotten a bit smoother, as a broader piece by the Guardian illustrated as the game looks back at over two years of service.

“I don’t think I could have imagined anything about the last two years,” says Hanke. “But it’s been great. I guess what’s most satisfying two years in, is seeing this thriving, strong user base of people that are not here for the fad, but because they love the core values of the game. Which is why we did it. It got lost in the first two months of Pokémon Go craziness. I wasn’t sure if people liked us for who we really were, or if they were just there because everybody else was.”

While the initial explosion of popularity remains the game’s player peak, the actual core features have only improved since the game’s launch, as the ability to trade Pokémon and send gifts to players. “It’s important that you have a vision of where you want to go. You can’t just be subject to the whims of what the public expresses. We’ve always tried to break new ground: things like trading and player v player combat, which is still not in the game but is something we think belongs in it. It feels like we are finally on a nice, regular cadence.”

Niantic seems focused on cultivating a sense of community and camaraderie among the game’s player base, as seen in the monthly community days. This came to a head at this year’s Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, which was an attempt to make up for last year’s disastrous proceedings, and ultimately proved a success. While the game hasn’t matched its initial fad-like numbers, it still rakes in heaps of cash, and now provides an experience that both the consumers and the developers are more satisfied with.

“We got a great letter recently,” says Hanke. “We get these all the time so I feel weird calling out one. It was a mom who had a kid recovering from cancer treatment and the family had adopted Pokémon Go as something they did together. She wrote this nice thank-you note to us about how it gets them outside and leads them to new places. They had taken a weekend trip somewhere and explored the city together. She capped it off by saying it was great for her son – it was giving him social confidence. It was many of the good things we hear [about the game] all rolled into one. That’s what keeps us going.”

You can read the full Guardian article for more info. Pokémon GO is, as always, free to download on any mobile device.


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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.