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a hand holding a cell phone with Pokemon Go

How to Make a Game Like Pokemon Go?

Estimated read time: 14 minutes

Want to know how to build a game like Pokémon Go? Or maybe you have an idea of a similar mobile game? Keep reading to learn all the details about creating Pokémon-like games from our comprehensive guide.

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With around 630 million lifetime downloads globally (as of Q4 2023), Pokémon Go is a model for anyone wanting to strike it big with an AR app. Developing such a game app requires a deep understanding of game development engines, game design, game logic, and cutting-edge technologies like augmented reality, visual reality, etc.

If you don’t have a professional team with this relevant expertise to take on that task, then submit a request for a complimentary discovery call, and one of our tech account managers who managed similar projects will contact you shortly.

Let’s see how to make a game like Pokémon Go in detail.

Create a Game like Pokémon Go

Making a game like Pokémon Go includes the following:

Market research

As the first step, you should conduct thorough market research and understand the preferences and pain points of your target audience. Analysis of Pokémon Go’s features will help you decide what features you want to add to your game app.

Features of Pokemon game-like apps

two cell phone screens with pokemon game

To launch a competitive app in this market, you need to have an interesting game concept. You might want to include the following features:

  • New account creation.
  • Customize player profiles: Pokemon game players can customize their ‘Avatars’.
  • Interactive maps.
  • A UI that’s easy enough for players to participate in the game on the go.
  • Participate in battles: This allows players to participate in those engrossing battles with different complexity levels of game-play to win new digital collectibles or art assets like Pokémon.
  • Trading digital collectibles: The app should allow players to trade collectibles with their peers.
  • An ability to make friends: Players need to make new friends in the app, gift them collectibles, and trade collectibles with them.
  • A capability to add newer versions of digital collectibles: This allows Pokemon games to remain fresh and interesting to loyal players playing them for a long time.
  • An ability to create and celebrate special events: Digital collectibles captured during these events can have differentiated features.
  • An ability to create clubs: Pokémon Go has gyms hence, a new app trying to make a mark in the market needs to provide similar clubs for players.
  • Enough customization capabilities to keep adding new features: This will help in retaining the interest level in the game.

It’s time to look at approaches to creating Pokémon Go and similar games.

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Approach #1: Use Appy Pie AR app builder to make a game like Pokémon Go

two hands holding a tablet from which a digital illustration of a lion emerges

In this approach, you don’t need a development team, and you don’t need to engage an app development company. You also don’t need to arrange your own cloud hosting or Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) account.

Appy Pie provides an AR app builder. This drag-and-drop app builder requires no coding. The app builder allows standard AR app features, e.g.:

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  • Image recognition and tracking;
  • Location/geo-based AR;
  • Ability to easily integrate ‘Virtual Reality’ (VR);
  • Panoramic and 360-degree video viewer.

To make your own Pokémon app, sign-up with Appy Pie. In a series of intuitive steps, you can choose a layout, drag and drop the required features, and publish your app.

To publish your app in ‘Google Play’ or ‘Apple App Store’, you need certain guidelines. Consult the ‘Google Play’ app “Launch Checklist”, and the Apple “App Store Review Guidelines” for more details.

The Pokémon Go-like app development cost in this approach only includes the Appy Pie product cost. Visit their pricing page for details.

They have multiple pricing plans, however, only the Platinum plan allows you to use your own branding. For start-ups without a development team, this approach allows a quick launch of the app.

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Approach #2: Make a Game like the Pokémon Go app using SDKs

A schema of how to use a SDK app to create a game

Unlike the app builder approach, this is a full-fledged development project. Several companies provide ‘Software Development Kits’ (SDKs) for AR game app development. This makes the approach a little easier.

I also recommend that you use an MBaaS provider. This helps you save the backend development time and effort, and you don’t need to manage the mobile backend.

Option #1: Wikitude AR SDK

Wikitude offers a comprehensive AR app SDK. The SDK offers all the key features, e.g.:

  • Object and scene recognition;
  • Instant tracking;
  • Image recognition;
  • Location-based services;
  • Multiple image targets;
  • Extended tracking;
  • Cloud recognition: developers can work with thousands of images hosted in the cloud;
  • 3D augmentations.

For a complete list of features, visit their features webpage.

Your team needs to sign-up with Wikitude. Create your AR designs using the ‘Wikitude Studio’. You can create and manage target collections besides, you can create and publish AR experiences here.

Wikitude Studio is a drag-and-drop tool to create an AR experience, furthermore, the company also has a ‘Studio Editor’ with intuitive navigation.

The web-based studio is easy-to-use, additionally, you can easily work on image recognition, object and scene recognition, augmentations, etc.

Visit the studio webpage for more details.

AR apps requiring more than 1,000 target image recognition can use ‘Wikitude Cloud Recognition‘. This offers a lot more space, hence, there is a greater target image recognition capability.

Wikitude offers different features in their different pricing plans. For example, the higher-priced plans include object recognition, scene recognition, cloud recognition, etc. Wikitude supports iOS, Android, and Windows platforms. Visit their pricing page for details.

The ‘Cloud’ license includes cloud hosting, however, for other products you need to buy an MBaaS service. Google Firebase, AWS Mobile, Kinvey, etc., are popular MBaaS providers. Check our guide “How to choose the best mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)?”.

Option #2: CRYENGINE game development platform

CRYENGINE offers a free game development platform. Visit their registration page to sign-up, subsequently, you can download their game engine.

Their game engine offers the following features:

  • An ability to design visuals and let your ideas fly;
  • Sandbox and tools to create AR experiences;
  • A capability to create characters and animations in your unique art style;
  • A comprehensive gaming platform;
  • Built-in audio and physics solutions;
  • Real-time immersion and interaction abilities.

The game platform is free, and they have a comprehensive set of tutorials. You can access their complete documentation, which contains guides for everything including installation, interfaces, etc.

You need to get an MBaaS account hence, consult our comparison guide I have referred to above.

Option #3: Solar 2D game engine

Solar 2D provides a free SDK called “Solar SDK“. Their 2D game engine is cross-platform, besides, it’s built on the Lua scripting language.

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Lua has been utilized in many famous games like ‘Warcraft’, and ‘Angry Birds’. It’s an open-source language, furthermore, it’s easy to learn.

You can build Android and iOS apps. You can also build for Mac desktops, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Android TV, and Windows desktop.

They offer many plugins for different purposes, e.g., in-app advertising, media, analytics, etc. Solar2D SDK allows you to call native libraries for programming languages like C/C++/Obj-C/Java and APIs. The build is easy and their simulator makes testing easy.

OpenGL graphics and lightweight Lua scripting make the apps performant. Read more about its’ advantages on their product page.

Download Solar2D here. The company provides extensive learning resources. You can access their ‘getting started’ guide and developer guides. Also access their API references, and plugin documentation.

They also have a marketplace where you can purchase app templates, Corona plugins, graphics, and audio files. You need to purchase an MBaaS account from our MBaaS comparison guide I mentioned earlier.

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Option #4: Unity gaming engine

Unity provides a comprehensive gaming engine and they claim that half of all games are created using this product. To back their claim, they showcase AR games that use their software on their “Made with Unity” page.

You get the following advantages with Unity:

  • A rich and extensible editor with artist-friendly tools, available both on Windows and Mac desktops.
  • Ability to create both 2D and 3D games.
  • AI pathfinding tools to ease your Pokémon Go development.
  • UI, physics engine, etc.
  • It supports multiple platforms like Android, iOS, Mac, tvOS, Android TV, Windows, Fire OS, etc.
  • High performance.
  • You can build instant games.
  • High-quality graphics rendering.
  • Artist and designer tools.
  • Build and collaboration features via ‘Unity Teams’.
  • Performance reporting, app analytics, monetization.
  • An asset store where you can get both free and paid content.

Read more about their advantages on their products page.

The company provides a rich suite of learning aids. This includes on-site training, online training, courses, tutorials, step-by-step guides, learning projects, documentation, and community support.

Visit their pricing page to get details about their pricing plans. You need to buy an MBaaS account separately.

Option #5: Open 3D engine (successor to Amazon Lumberyard)

Amazon recommends the Open 3D Engine (O3DE) for building 3D games. It has good integrations with AWS. Open 3D Engine is free and open-source. You have many advantages if you use O3DE, for example:

  • Quickly build live, multiplayer features. It offers a physically-based renderer and a suite of tools to allow you to build real-time online game features.
  • ‘Cloud Gems’ framework enables you to easily build cloud-connected features.
  • Extend the O3DE editor by creating a custom tool gem in C++ and Python.
  • The platform offers two scripting environments to build runtime logic with Script Canvas and Lua.
  • An ability to create near-photorealistic environments that have high dynamic ranges. You can also create excellent real-time effects.
  • You can easily add game-ready assets.
  • Creating believable and compelling characters.
  • Robust networking features.

This is not an exhaustive list of advantages. Visit the O3DE homepage for more details. You can sign up here.

To learn about Open 3D Engine, access their ‘Getting Started’ guide. You can also access their tutorials and documentation.

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Form a competent development team to make a game like Pokémon Go

This is a development project, and you need to onboard a skilled development team. You need to induct for the following roles:

  • Business analysts;
  • UI/UX designers;
  • iOS developers;
  • Android developers;
  • Testers;
  • Project manager.

Please ensure UI/UX designers know sufficiently about mobile navigation menu examples since UI is key for a game app. The PM needs to be sufficiently skilled, e.g., he or she should know project management best practices.

Since a mobile app is a ‘System of Engagement’ (SoE) requiring frequent changes, I recommend that you use the ‘Agile’ methodology. Read our guide “How to build an Agile development team”.

Project management approach

‘Scrum’ is a highly tried-and-tested technique in the ‘Agile’ environment, hence I recommend you use it. Here, the PM is called the ‘Scrum Master’, and he builds a closely-knit cross-functional team. BA, designers, developers, and testers work together in this team, which is typically a small and co-located team.

The ‘Scrum Master’ first gets the product features from the ‘Product Owner’ (PO). The team estimates features and different ‘Sprints’ are planned for collections of features. The team goes through a routine ‘Daily Stand-up Meeting’ to discuss the status and resolve issues.

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When the features are successfully developed and tested, the team conducts a ‘Sprint Review Meeting’. Project stakeholders see the app features and provided they work as expected, approve the ‘Sprint’.

The ‘Scrum team’ then conducts a lessons-learned exercise called the ‘Sprint Retrospective Meeting’. Read more about it in “How to Build a Scrum development team”.

Important tools to develop an AR game

Although SDKs and MBaaS providers make development a bit easier, you should strive to gain optimal productivity. You need to use modern tools for that.

Consider ‘TestComplete’ for test automation. ‘Maven’ is a good tool for the build and deployment management of the final product.

You can try Slack for collaboration, besides, Zoho is good for project management. Get more tips from our guide “The 10 best Agile project management tools”.

The cost to make a game like Pokémon Go

While SDK providers and MBaaS providers have clearly laid out pricing plans, the development effort will vary depending on the complexity of the finished product.

The local labor market influences the availability of skilled developers, besides, it also drives the manpower cost. You may need to get professional help with this approach, hence, please consult our guide “How to find the best software development company?”.

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Planning to Make a Game Like Pokémon Go?

This is all for our Pokemon games guide. Since the augmented reality app industry is growing at a massive rate, creating innovative new software in this market is the chance to make some serious money.

If you want to succeed in a competitive augmented reality market, you will need to develop robust software with innovative features that make your game unique.

Developing such a game requires, in addition to great ideas, quality niche software development skills in using the latest technologies and a huge amount of game design and development work. DevTeam.Space can help you here with its expert software engineer community.

You can easily partner with our game developers by filling out the AR game development project requirements using this quick form. One of our technical managers will contact you for further assistance. 

Pokémon Go is still popular, but building a similar game from scratch might be very difficult. If you want to start with a simpler project, the gaming universe has many game genres and types to offer.

Here are some of the most popular game genres:

  1. Geolocation-based games;
  2. NFT-powered games;
  3. Educational games;
  4. Esports games;
  5. Simulation games.

DevTeam.Space has a variety of gaming projects in its portfolio and can easily assist you in developing your new great game.

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Frequently Asked Questions on How to Make a Game Like Pokémon Go

What other games are like Pokémon Go?

There are plenty of other games like Pokemon Go with similar gameplay mechanics. These include Pikmin Bloom, Ingress, Jurassic World Alive, and more. Another card game similar to Pokemon Go by the Pokemon franchise is Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.

How do you make a game like Pokémon Go?

To make a game like Pokemon Go, you need to go through the following:
• Create a project plan;
• Onboard developers with the required computer science and game development skills, like C++ programming language, Unreal engine, etc.;
• Set up the infrastructure;
• Implement communication channels;
• Outline tasks or sprints;
• Design and develop the game and release it in early access to gather player feedback and make improvements before the full launch.

What software does the Pokémon Go game use?

Pokemon was created using programming languages like Java, C++, and C# and the Unity game engine. Pokémon Go also uses (and popularizes) what was previosuly considered a niche technology — augmented reality, or AR, that blends the physical and the virtual. This superimposing of computer characters on real-world sceneries is one of the reasons why playing Pokémon Go is fun.

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Alexey Semeney

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