One year ago to the day – July 6, 2016 – Nintendo and niantic labs unleashed a mobile hurricane upon the whole wide world. Its name was “Pokémon GO” and it became a gaming and social phenomenon, a multiple Guinness World Record Holder, and an unexpected tool for both preventing and committing crimes. For several months it garnered a wide player following, which dropped off eventually after certain gameplay features hyped in its initial trailer did not materialize. It was not until a month or so shy of its first anniversary that one event – raid battles – was finally implemented.

With celebrations planned in some countries to herald in this first year of “Pokémon Go” Niantic’s CEO has decided to drop some updates on what the app has yet in store.

Maintaining app over further development

John Hanke, the boss of Niantic Labs, told The Verge how the most recent summer 2017 update to “Pokémon Go” has revitalized interest for the Nintendo mobile game after so long. These game changes included the new double purpose of Pokémon Gyms as alternate Poke-Stops (item spots) and the revamp of Gym Battle rules. Most important of course was the coming of Raid Battles which pit groups of players against the occasional lone super-powered rare Pokémon creature.

But Hanke was also gracious enough to explain the rather lengthy delay in introducing this initially promised mechanic.

The lack of it along with player-vs.-player and Pokémon trading was one of the factors for the “Pokémon Go” player base shrinking from 100 million in August 2016 to only 65 million worldwide nowadays. The Niantic CEO explained that due to the overwhelming number of gamers downloading and playing the app globally in the early months, the company’s focus was on maintaining and expanding the app’s infrastructure to cater to the massive influx of newcomers.

He estimates that about six months of hectic work were lost when they could have been developing and implementing all possible features.

Augmented reality breakout

Nintendo and Niantic Labs’ “Pokémon Go” was one of the pioneers in the popular and general consumer utilization of augmented reality tech. This was how the app would super-impose moving images of Pokémon on the smartphone camera footage of the player’s point of view.

Although the AR craze wrought by “Pokémon Go” did not quite spur the development of similar apps, it has generated a lot of major interest in developing this tech for further applications. One prominent example is Apple and IKEA’s joint work on the ARKit app. But all in all the first word on wide AR use remains to be this once-dominant and still-strong “Pokémon Go.”