John Hanke of Niantic Labs has Pokémon Plans at Disrupt SF | Summary and Q&A

September 13, 2016
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John Hanke of Niantic Labs has Pokémon Plans at Disrupt SF

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This video features an interview with John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic, the company behind the popular game Pokemon Go. He discusses the launch of the game, the challenges they faced, and their plans for the future.

Questions & Answers

Q: What was the moment when you realized Pokemon Go was a massive hit?

After the game launched in the US, they quickly ran out of server capacity, indicating the game's popularity. They had to request reinforcements from the Google cloud team to keep the game running smoothly.

Q: Is there anything they could have done differently to handle the game's explosive popularity?

They admit that if they had seen the future, they would have provisioned more resources in advance. However, given the unpredictable nature of the game's success, it was difficult to anticipate such high demand.

Q: Have they resolved all the issues and put the fires out?

They have provisioned more servers and rolled out the game to many countries. However, there are still markets like South Asia, Russia, China, and parts of Africa where the game has not been officially launched yet.

Q: Do they have plans for future rollouts?

While they cannot disclose specific details, they have a good idea of the next rollout country, pending government relations and preparation.

Q: How do they maintain people's interest in the game moving forward?

They believe that the multiplayer and social aspects of the game are key to its long-term success. They aim to create events and experiences that bring players together, similar to the events they organize for their other game, Ingress.

Q: Will Pokemon Go continue to maintain its popularity in the future?

The game has a massive player base, and while the initial hype has calmed down, there is still a steady inflow of new users joining the game. They are pleased with the current state of the game and believe it will continue to thrive.

Q: Will Pokemon Go be available on other smartwatches?

The company is open to supporting other smartwatches, not just the Apple Watch. They see the potential of creating a gameplay experience that allows players to enjoy the world around them without constantly looking at their phone.

Q: Will Player versus Player Pokemon battles be introduced in the game?

While battling is something they talk about, they don't have a specific date for its implementation. However, it is something that will likely be added to the game in the future.

Q: How do they decide when to add more Pokemon to the game?

The plan was always to gradually introduce more Pokemon into the game to keep it fresh. It adds excitement for players to discover new Pokemon in the game, and they see it as a natural way to keep the game evolving.

Q: Can he provide any tips on how to find rare Pokemon?

He jokingly says he can't reveal that information, as it would spoil the fun for players.


Pokemon Go was a massive hit upon its launch, creating a global phenomenon. Despite facing challenges with server capacity and high demand, Niantic managed to keep the game running smoothly and continue rolling it out to new countries. They plan to maintain players' interest through multiplayer events and experiences, as well as gradually introducing new Pokemon into the game. The company is also open to expanding the game to other platforms, such as smartwatches. Overall, Pokemon Go has a massive player base and continues to be a popular game.

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