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Could Pokemon Go Be Headed to Virtual Reality?

Now that the dust has settled on the security concern and injuries and real-world friendship forging stories, we need some new Pokémon Go material for the mill. We’ve got it thanks to Business Insider, which on a tip discovered a link between the wildly popular game and the Google Cardboard virtual reality platform.

The discovery, which says absolutely nothing, is found in the licensing section of the Pokémon Go app. In that section, there’s a list of software used in the creation of Pokémon Go, which includes Google Cardboard. As of now, Pokémon Go has nothing to do with Google Cardboard, leading some to conclude that the game will soon come to virtual reality.

It won’t, of course — at least not in its present form. Assuming that the Google Cardboard reference in the licensing section is for something tied to reality and not a just in case move by developers Niantic, there’s no way Pokémon Go can be played in virtual reality. As an augmented reality game, Pokémon Go requires players to physically move to locations in the real world, where they can find virtual Pokémon, PokéStops, or gyms. Because virtual reality doesn’t allow for much movement in real reality, the chances of seeing Pokémon Go VR are pretty slim.

Now, if an augmented camera feed was piped through a Pokémon Go VR experience, that would work, but that would mean you’d be using a virtual reality headset to view real reality, just with Pokémon in it. That seems ridiculous. That also sounds like something you could do with an augmented reality headset, instead — something like, say, Microsoft HoloLens. Now Pokémon Go on HoloLens, that would be — well, also pretty ridiculous. If people weren’t willing to wear Google Glass in public, they’re certainly not going to wear the bulkier HoloLens outside, even for Pokémon. Also, everyone already has a smartphone, as opposed to needing to buy a new headset that, when it goes retail, will likely cost over $1,000. People won’t pay that much for Pokémon Go in a lump sum (you’d better believe they’ll pay it bit by bit through microtransactions, though).

So, what should we really expect? If I had to guess, I’d say if anything, Niantic are probably working on a parallel VR game that would amount to a pet simulator for Pokémon that you’ve captured in Pokémon Go. It would provide another way to interact with your Pokémon (something the game itself sorely lacks) while possibly opening up new ways to level up Pokémon or introduce new abilities. It’d provide an additional layer of depth that could help give Pokémon Go some staying power. But, that’s just speculation on our part — for now, the whole thing exists on a level beneath even rumor.

Via Business Insider