On Saturday morning, screenshots of an email surfaced purporting to show a representative of Niantic Labs saying that “we have decided to stop development of the port” of Pokémon GO for the Apple Watch, unless demand increased. The promise that the popular game was coming to Apple Watch was part of an Apple keynote in September, so it came as a shock to many fans that the two companies would backtrack.
As it turns out, they haven’t. In a statement to TechCrunch, Niantic said the email was “not real,” and that “development on Pokémon GO continues”.
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While the project isn’t dead, it does seem like Niantic are pushing the goalpoasts a bit. The original announcement had the Watch version of the megahit game arriving by the end of this year, but Niantic is now just saying they’ll “have more news on the product soon.”
The delay could be down to a slight fading of interest in Pokémon GO. The game experienced a steep dropoff after its gangbusters debut – but App Annie still lists it as one of the top ten grossing apps for iOS.
What’s less clear is how much of remaining demand would translate to the Apple Watch. The watch has been frequently described as a flop, at least by Apple standards, and Apple’s refusal to release sales numbers reinforces that assessment. (In fact, the entire smart watch category is looking underwhelming, at least as of the summer).
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Pokémon GO would in many ways be an ideal fit for the Apple Watch, since the game is meant to be played, well, on-the-go. The Watch version was planned to include fitness tracking features, and would allow players to control most aspects of the game without taking their phones out.
But that might just be one more smartwatch-enabled convenience that people don’t care that much about.