Google made an April Fool’s advert in 2014 that’s basically Pokémon Go

But were they planning the game even then?

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Pokémon Go has pretty much taken over the world this week, with the new smartphone game (which isn’t currently available for download in the UK unless you create a foreign Google/Apple account, which many have done) using Google Maps technology to turn real life into a world of catchable Pokémon, gym battles and bitter team rivalries. 

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Of course, if you’ve been following the news (or social media) for the last few days you’ll probably know all that already – but DID you know that we actually saw the idea for this game advertised by Google two years ago, before anyone even knew the game existed? An advertisement that people later noticed had only popped up on April 1st 2014?

Yep – Pokémon Go started out as an April Fool’s joke, where the company promoted a fictional Google Maps application that would allow users to travel through real-world locations and catch Pokémon there with their smartphones. Sound familiar?

Now, if you’re thinking this is too much of a coincidence and that game creators Niantic must have ripped off Google’s joke then you’d be both right and wrong – it IS more than a coincidence but Niantic didn’t rip off anybody. You see, Niantic was originally a part of Google, and alongside the Pokémon company and Nintendo itself Google was also a major investor in Pokémon Go – so really they’ve been on board the whole time.

And in fact, according to Buzzfeed Niantic CEO John Hanke has commented that work on Pokémon Go has been going on for a good long while – since, ooh, about early 2014, in fact.

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Were Google testing the waters, teasing an idea early in development or did two different departments just come up with the same concept? We’ll probably never know – and we’re betting fans will be too busy searching for rare Pokémon in lakes to care anyway.