Before it was a massively addicting game consuming all of our free time, “Pokémon GO” was just a fun April Fool’s joke at Google.
Google released a video in 2014 inviting people to use Google Maps to catch Pokémon for April Fool’s day, Bloomberg first reported. At the time, Niantic Labs, the developer of “Pokémon GO,” was still owned by Google and its CEO John Hanke decided to run with the idea.
Niantic Labs separated from Google in August 2015 to take its “unique blend of exploration and fun to even bigger audiences,” it wrote on its Google+ page at the time. I think its fair to say Niantic succeeded in that goal.
“Leave no stone unturned or city unzoomed as you seek out wild Charizards and Pikachus to add to your Pokédex,” Google wrote in a blog post announcing the Pokémon April Fool’s joke. “Be vigilant — you never know if a wild Steelix will appear in Tokyo, Japan or New York City, USA.”
The game stayed fairly true to its original joke form at Google. Although it doesn’t use Google Maps, both versions involve looking at a map to find hidden Pokémon.
Pokémon still “appear” in real life using augmented reality and are added to a Pokédex once they’re caught.
As part of the joke, Brian McClendon, who was vice president of Google Maps at the time, said anyone who could actually catch ’em all would be hired at Google as “Pokémon Master” starting September 1, 2014.
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