Very close to one year ago, Japanese game company Nintendo released their first major foray into the near-infinite mobile gaming market with a certain app developed by niantic labs, a software firm that originated as a Google internal startup. Nobody would ever have imagined then that the mobile game in question, “Pokemon Go,” would grow into a global gaming juggernaut and, for a few months of 2016, an addictive social phenomenon that brought people together.

Now the game is approaching its first anniversary of taking people on walks in the real world while pouring at their cellphones and tablets.

And the Nintendo-Niantic partnership plans to milk this significant milestone with a whole gamut of special events, both in-game and in-person.

Virtual and real celebration

Some degree of excitement is building up with the remaining loyal fan base of “Pokémon GO” as Niantic Labs gear up with a series of celebratory events. While the “Legendary Summer” update still seems to be ways off – and no word yet if it does include the original batch of Legendary Pokémon – there is a confirmed in-game event this coming June 13th. Called the “Solstice Event,” it will feature increased appearances of Fire-type and Ice-type Pokémon, discounted Lucky Egg items, and increased experience gain for leveling up.

Meanwhile, players who are still aware of the real world will not be left hanging either.

Be it in Asia, North America or Europe, Nintendo and Niantic have some surprises in store. The most prominent event being hyped stateside is in Chicago, which is hosting a “Pokémon Go Fest” for next month on July 22. Tickets, however, will start becoming available on June 19, although prices, program schedule or even what will happen at the Chicago Fest have not yet been revealed.

The European “Pokémon Go” celebration is even vaguer, other than being set to happen between anytime July and September. Meanwhile, the birthplace of the mobile app, Japan, is announcing its own celebration to be held in Yokohama. The “Pikachu Outbreak” is set for August, with further details forthcoming in the following days.

Long-awaited updates

While all these celebrations are being set up, Niantic Labs has also announced the onset of new gameplay additions that will be coming to “Pokémon Go” in updates coinciding with the anniversary. One rumor is some tweaking to be done in the game’s Gym mechanics to combat cheating, though it may necessitate the temporary shutdown of the virtual world’s Gyms.

Another possibility is the introduction of player vs. player combat, something that was hyped in the earliest teasers from years ago. Niantic is making greats strides for the first year of “Pokémon Go,” seeing as the in-house Nintendo-developed mobile game “Magikarp Jump” is making a splash of its own. Some healthy app competition appears to be incoming.