Sam Machkovech

SAN FRANCISCO—The Game Developers Conference has always offered dedicated panels and stages for the biggest mobile games of the moment, so it was no surprise that Pokémon Go, which didn’t even exist last March, made an appearance.

The game’s single panel at this year’s event may not have been ripe with tell-alls and behind-the-scenes looks at its every facet, but it still proved a solid look at the phenomenon’s early stages.
Niantic visual design director Dennis Hwang was on hand to recall the successes of the developer’s prior augmented-reality game, Ingress.

That included thousands-strong user meetups organized by players themselves, along with users posting GPS-tracked walks to Ingress points of interest (and saying they lost weight as a result of all that walking). “Our goals initially were modest,” Hwang said. “If [our players] just walked a few extra blocks, we would have been totally happy, because we knew how hard it was to motivate someone to get off a chair and move due to some app or game.”
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