We’ve had plenty of cause already to fear Pokémon GO was delayed from its initial planned release window of “early 2016.” Not only are we rapidly moving past what can be considered early in the year, but we also passed several likely events, such as Pokémon Day, without a release date announcement.
Now we have even more reason to suspect a delay. Previously, we’d discussed how the Pokémon GO event at GDC hinted at an impending release date. The event promised a closer look at Pokémon GO, and its use of present tense suggested some form of beta test would already be well underway by that point. At the very least, we knew we’d learn more about Pokémon GO at that time.
However, something disturbing has happened. The Pokémon GO event, a half-hour GDC session scheduled for March 14, is now listed on the GDC’s official site as “cancelled.”
Game Informer contacted Niantic and received an answer from CEO John Hanke, who said the presentation was cancelled to give them more time to “focus on getting the product ready for beta test and launch.”
While it may seem strange that they need the extra time that would have been taken up by the GDC event (since the contents of a presentation would normally be prepared ahead of time), this might go back again to the present tense statements in the event’s description. When Niantic prepared to discuss Pokémon GO at GDC 2016, they might have believed players would already be interacting through a Pokémon GO beta test. Perhaps Niantic doesn’t have the data it would need for the planned talk.
However, they should get that data soon, for Pokémon GO beta testing has begun. You can sign up now. Unfortunately these “field tests” are only available in Japan at the moment, but Niantic’s official blog asks fans to wait for information about when the tests will move to other areas, so the beta won’t be Japan-only forever. We’ll keep you updated.
It’s disappointing we won’t learn more about Pokémon GO at GDC, and it seems probable the game will release in mid or late 2016 instead of the originally-announced release window, but this is still excellent news. Soon, the very first players will begin testing Pokémon GO in Japan!
Will you sign up for the Pokémon GO beta if it launches near you?