Although Nintendo proper is just now dipping their toe into the mobile market with Miitomo, the Pokemon Company has been around for a while now. At first, they were only producing Apps that more or less only existed to promote the brand, like the Pokedex or Pokemon TV, but last year they finally took the big step of releasing a game. Granted, that game was a port of their 3DS free-to-play Pokemon Shuffle (Free), but steps are steps. In the fall of last year, however, they announced their first big original mobile title, Pokemon Go. Developed by Niantic of Ingress (Free) fame, Pokemon Go seeks to bring Pokemon battling to the real world. Too good to be true? Well, we’ll know pretty soon, as the game is officially starting its Japanese field test today.
A couple of months ago, there was a sign-up for Japanese residents who wanted to test the game out when it was ready, and at least for Android owners, that day has come. It’s hard to say how far away a release or even a soft launch is, or if any major information will come out of this since beta testers might not be allowed to talk about their experiences, but just putting the game in the hands of general players feels like a big sign that the game is nearing completion. While we know a lot of general details about Pokemon Go and a few specifics, it will be interesting to find out exactly how it’s all set up. Am I really going to have to go to the beach to get a Squirtle? Is Charizard going to be found in the mouth of a real volcano like he was during that Pokemon Google thing a few years ago?
The real question is how Pokemon Go‘s pricing structure is going to be built. This game is clearly going to be targeting kids, and with the Japanese government starting to take a closer look at how free-to-play games sometimes exploit customers to a dangerous degree, I’d imagine the Pokemon Company doesn’t want to paint too large of a target on their backs. But due to market conditions, I also can’t see it being anything other than a free-to-play game with IAP support. So it remains to be seen just how much it’s going to cost you in terms of money, time, and travel if you want to catch ’em all. With the field test starting, we should have our answers soon enough.