Like an unfinished painting by one of the great masters, Pokemon GO has always felt a tad incomplete. Sure, what’s in the game is a ton of childhood memory-inducing fun, there’s just not enough of it. Content updates have been high on this gamer’s wishlist, even after the recent Buddy System upgrade.
We want trading, and without sounding too bloodthirsty, more combat. Gym battles alone aren’t going to cut it.
The people behind Pokemon GO undoubtedly realize this too, which is why it’s not surprising when they drop hints about upcoming features (Niantic could be a little more forthcoming about updates once they’re finalized, but that’s a different story). One of the most intriguing ones so far came this week from Tsunekazu Ishihara, CEO of The Pokemon Company.
Via Fortune, Ishihara told the Wall Street Journal that “a Niantic update allowing one-on-one battles between GO players is coming down the pipeline.” We’ll assume that “down the pipeline” can roughly be translated to “in an update coming relatively soon” while we pump our fists in excitement.
Unlike trading, which likely was a smart feature to delay until Niantic had more of a handle on the post-launch in-game economy, duels against other Trainers always felt like a strange omission from Pokemon GO. Duels are at the heart of the franchise in every form of media, and there don’t even need to be any real stakes for them to be worth adding to the game.
More battles would make the game more social as well. To use an anecdotal example, it was fun meeting new people while walking around playing Pokemon GO at the beach this summer. Would it have been even more enjoyable if I could have challenged those acquaintances to a friendly duel? The answer is in the question.
The guess here is that Niantic has always had adding duels on its to-do list, but hearing it talked about from someone of importance in the world of Pokemon elevates it above the realm of the theoretical. If Ishihara is correct, that update can’t get here soon enough.