The Google Maps Pokémon Challenge


It’s not every day that you wake up to massive product validation dropped into your lap by Google, but that’s precisely what’s happened today.

For those of you who still might not have heard, Google’s annual April Fools’ Joke took the form of a video wherein Google set out to recruit the world’s best Pokémon masters.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YMD6xELI_k

In order to “prove their worth,” these potential Googlers had to scour the face of the earth (and the face of at least one cliff), smartphone in hand. They captured Pokémon by throttling their phone toward the target monster, as seen via AR camera overlays. The concept is exhilarating, the animations are slick, and the announcer is straight out of those Pokémon commercials from the 90’s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tTc8__lXkM

But because it’s Google, the joke didn’t stop at a simple video. Starting today, and until Wednesday, anyone using the iOS or Android Google Maps app can pan and zoom their way around the world, searching for particularly placed pixelated Pokémon.

Pokémon Challenge | MegaBits Private Beta

Notice any similarities? We did, so like most of you probably did, we updated Google Maps and started searching for Pokémon. An hour and approximately 10 Pokémon later (author’s note: the world is a very big place), we decided to follow up on user reaction. We wanted to know how people were reacting to the fact that one of the biggest companies in the world had given them the ability, however shallow or temporary, to become a monster trainer. The results align almost exactly with what we’ve seen with MegaBits, but at a much bigger scale. Responses ranged from unbridled excitement…

https://twitter.com/ayanonagon/status/450686332088496129

…to frustration and the desire for more.

https://twitter.com/KurtTrowbridge/status/450672625379848192

There’s no end to our excitement about what Google’s done. As players, we love the thrill of darting about the map scooping up Pokémon. And as the creators of MegaBits, we love that Google has proven how popular and infectious location-based monster training can be, and we love that we’re working hard every day to make it more than just a fun little gag.

We see the potential in cultivating this new way to play mobile games, and in satisfying our users’ love for capturing monsters! So stick with us as we get closer and closer to realizing that potential. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date! Oh, and if you’re part of the Google Maps team, drop us a line (team@megabitsapp.com); we’d love to talk about the future of monster training games that are played in the real world.