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New Pokémon Go features in the works: Events, trading and maybe battling

Niantic CEO John Hanke takes us behind the scenes on the latest Recode Decode.

Ina Fried for Recode

Coming off the launch of Pokémon Go in July — a runaway success that exceeded his most optimistic expectations — Niantic CEO John Hanke says he’s "exhausted, but elated." He and his team also know that the work has only just begun.

"It’s been a busy two months, so we’re now happy that we’re kind of stabilized and able to start being a little more thoughtful about the next set of features that we want to build," Hanke said on the latest episode of Recode Decode.

Now the company, formed within Google but spun off as an independent entity last year, has to figure out how to keep players coming back.

As Hanke explained, the Pokémon Go team learned a lot from Niantic’s previous game Ingress, which holds regular in-person "events" for its players to meet up and play together.

"I think we probably will" hold events for Pokémon Go, Hanke said. "We want to make sure that if we do put on an event, we can adequately handle the number of people who would show up."

When asked on the new podcast, he didn’t say either way whether those events would also see the introduction of rare Pokémon that players have not yet discovered in the wild, such as the legendary birds Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres.

Also in the works is the ability to trade Pokémon you’ve caught in the game with your friends, a signature feature of the Pokémon video games dating back to the original Game Boy titles from 1996. He said player-versus-player battles, another key part of the game series, is "something that we talk a lot about internally."

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