For nearly 20 years, Pokémon has been a killer franchise for Nintendo’s handheld gaming consoles, from the Game Boy to today’s Nintendo 3DS. But times are changing, Nintendo is finally looking to smartphones and the next iteration of the monster-collecting game is getting a serious mobile rethink.
The new title, Pokémon Go, is being developed by Niantic Labs, a game studio that was formerly part of Google until the company reorganized to become Alphabet. Niantic previously developed Ingress, a mobile game that tracked players’ locations and rewarded them for traveling around the real world.
The game’s co-developers, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company (of which Nintendo owns a third), are also investing an undisclosed amount in the newly independent Niantic. (Update: See editor’s note, below.)
It looks as though Pokémon Go, slated for release next year, will echo Ingress. As fans of the game series know, the conceit is that strange creatures roam the world and can be caught, traded and battled, like a weird hybrid of pet ownership and cockfighting.
“For the first time with this game, Pokémon are going to roam free in the real world,” Niantic CEO John Hanke said at a press conference.
Players will use their Android and iOS devices to see and interact with the titular pocket monsters in their neighborhoods, or wherever they travel. It’s a telling indicator of where the winds have been blowing in on-the-go gaming.
Also incoming: A wearable device called Pokémon Go Plus that vibrates to alert players of new things to do in the game. It looks like something only a superfan would buy, but it’s probably a hell of a lot cheaper than a smartwatch. Pricing details for the wearable device were not immediately available, and the game is said to be a free download — but left unsaid is how the company will monetize those downloads.
Editor’s Note: After the publication of this story, a representative for The Pokémon Company emailed to say they had incorrectly announced that Nintendo had invested in Niantic, and that that is “not confirmed nor announced by any of the companies involved.” When asked if the erroneous press release was pre-announcing a future investment, the representative declined to comment and said it was a mistake. The text from the originally published article is preserved above.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.