SAN FRANCISCO—In the wake of their mobile app's overwhelming reception last year, mobile gaming company, Niantic, just announced that the July 6 anniversary of their app will also serve as the release date for its newest property, Pokémon Go, the Board Game.
The decision to produce a board game came about through the observation of Pokémon Go players' digital habits. In a recent report Niantic revealed that trainers had traveled more than 603.5 billion km—nearly 16 million trips around the world!
“It is an achievement, to be sure,” says Niantic CEO John Hanke. “But how many of those kilometers were done by foot and not by motorized vehicle?” Hanke went on to explain his suspicion that a huge majority of the Pokémon Go community has a fetish with playing the game while sitting at home. “If they are insistent upon playing the game contrary to the terms of service, there is opportunity there."
PoGoBoGa, as its fans are already referring to it, is his answer. A cooperative, deckbuilding, area control board game with a legacy element that so far appears to exactly mirror the mobile app's mechanics. Niantic will require a physical address in order to ship its "Game Updates," (encyclopedia-sized boxes that contain modifications to the main game). Each game board will be unique; a map of customers' shipping address and the surrounding area. Players will interact with the pokéstops and gyms that are printed directly on the board, and can encounter pokémon depending on dice rolls as their trainer tokens wander the board.
"My family loves playing together on our own copies of the game," says Harry Winters, early playtester and father of three. "We don't ever actually interact, but we all play at the same time, and I saw Niantic’s Twitter account announce that only 1% of the game is released. So, we're all looking forward to more!"
No instructions are included with the game, which has frustrated some playtesters, but Professor Willow does include a 3x5 card that asks "Are you a boy or a girl?" and a request to return the card by post.
Avid solo player, Mary Contrari, picked the game up quickly. "The tracker deck was so great," she says. “I loved knowing how far to move my player token to find pokémon.” When the first Game Update box arrived with a replacement for the tracker deck, she was excited to make the changes. "It's a little hard now. Everything is three steps away."
When she received the next Game Update, she decided not to use it—until one day she discovered that someone had broken into her house and replaced her tracker deck with new no-footprint cards. "So annoying! But I caught a Snorlax that was nowhere on my radar, so I guess it's fine.
It appears that the board game will be best played by residents of cities. Lily Anderson, who lives in a small town in Wyoming, told us that she changed her mailing address to her sister's in San Francisco after finding no pokéstops on her map. "PoGoBoGa is great now," she says. "It was well worth the extra shipping charges."
Hugo Montague of Chicago, a former OCD sufferer, said that he had come to grips with the idea of the game being in the legacy format, but feared suffering a relapse after having to shred twenty pidgey cards in a row. "I've been stuck at Level 17 because I refuse to tear up another card just to get the necessary candy!" Hugo also had issues with having to pack and unpack his box over and over because the event deck told him to. "I played the game for 10 minutes that way. Then the next card told me I was going too fast!"
Once the game is released, updates are expected to lag behind the mobile game a few months, so the second generation of pokémon are expected to be added December 2022, at the earliest.
At the time of this article's publishing, Niantic hadn't responded to requests for comment.