With 500M downloads, Pokémon Go is coming to the Apple Watch

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Oh boy, here we go — John Hanke, CEO of Niantic Labs, just told the world that Pokémon Go is coming to the Apple Watch on stage at Apple’s iPhone 7 event.

The game has become one of the most successful game launches of all time (if not the most successful game launch of all time). Hinke said Pokémon Go has been downloaded more than 500 million times around the world since it launched. Trainers have walked more than 4.6 billion kilometers while playing the game.

Nintendo shares are going absolutely bonkers following the announcement, spiking immediately following the unveiling on stage. After the announcement, it looks like shares are up more than 20%. Since the launch of Pokémon Go, and now the unveiling of Super Mario Run, shares are up more than 65% in the past several months.

The new app is designed to blend the gameplay with a traditional walk or run. Normally, players have to keep the game open and be looking at their phones in order to detect nearby Pokéstops and Pokémon. These are many of the core mechanics of the game, but enable players to enjoy the experience as a more general walking experience without having to constantly look at your phone — and potentially walk into something hazardous.

During a walk, users can see how far they walked and how many calories they burned, and see what Pokémon are nearby, and then are alerted when a Pokémon appears nearby. At a Pokéstop, users get a tap on the wrist as well. They can also engage with Pokéstop to get items like Pokéballs and such, and see when eggs hatch.

The walk is one of the unique things that gives Pokémon Go a different way to engage with the game. Pokémon Go invites its users to explore the world around them, constantly offering new experiences with different kinds of Pokémon that may pop up — as well as potentially running into other trainers. So this is an interesting look at not only what focusing on that experience looks like, but also what a core gameplay mechanic might look like on the Apple Watch.

For sure, we’re going to see a lot of game companies jumping on this kind of an idea if it works. Pokémon Go pioneered a lot of new mechanics (well, Niantic did that previously with Ingress) that developers are surely taking notes on for their future games.

This app, along with the new Super Mario Run, signals an increasing intent for Nintendo not only to get its products on new mobile devices, but rethink how those kinds of brands would look on those devices. Pokémon Go represented Nintendo’s first moment in giving companies a new opportunity to come up with titles on mobile devices outside of the traditional 3DS.

The app will be shipping before the end of the year. Be sure to check out the rest of the event on our live blog.

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