Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein – all of these thinkers and doers have worked on their brainchild idea for years together to perfect it. And when they did, the results changed the face of the world forever. Their inventions made people’s lives easier, better, and a lot more fun.

John Hanke, the creator of Pokémon GO, is probably on the seventh heaven right now. His game, which is  hardly a week old, has seen more downloads than Tinder, Twitter and other popular apps. In a span of 7 days, the game has set people crazy and Nintendo’s shares have gone up at a lightening-fast speed.


However, this overnight success, as some might call it, actually took 20 long and hard years. Yes, you read that right. It took John Hanke 20 years to perfect the much loved game of Pokémon!

The Meridian 59 phase

In 1996, while John Hanke was still a student, he launched a massively multiplayer online game called, Meridian 59. The game was so great that 3DO, the gaming company, went ahead and bought it from him. 


When John created the best thing – Google Earth

John Hanke created Keyhole, a software development company specializing in geospatial data visualization applications. Which is basically GPS linked, 3D aerial view of Earth. Seeing the potential that Keyhole had, Google acquired it in 2004 and turned it into Google Earth. That is when John decided that he can now focus on making GPS-based games.

The birth of Niantic

From 2004-2010, Hanke ran the Google Earth team. He created the Google Maps and Google Street view, and in the mean time, also put together the core team for Pokémon GO. In 2010, he set up Niantic, a start-up funded by Google to create a game based on Google maps. Why Niantic? Well, mostly because:

“The Niantic is the name of a whaling ship that came up during the gold rush and through a variety of circumstances got dragged on shore. This happened with other ships, too. Over the years, San Francisco was basically just built over these ships. You could stand on top of them now, and you wouldn’t know it. So it’s this idea that there’s stuff about the world that’s really cool but even though it’s on the Internet, it’s hard to know when you’re actually there.”

This small company launched its first geo-based multiplayer game called Ingress in 2012, which was, surprisingly, a big hit.


The prank that went viral

After gathering the team for his ultimate game, John launched a mini game as a joke on April Fools’ Day in 2014 along with Google. This game was to set precedence for the Pokémon GO game that we’re so crazy about right now. The prank actually worked and was a viral hit, and this was all John needed to finish what he began.


If you think the game was built just for fun, you might wanna read this

John Hanke, in an interview with Business Insider, states that the team behind Pokémon GO had a larger objective than just providing entertainment to public. He said, “Pokémon GO is designed to get you up and moving by promising you Pokémon as rewards, rather than placing pressure on you.” 

Many people are actually making the effort to go out and explore new places around them. This was what Hanke wanted too. He says, “By encouraging exploration, Pokémon GO can make your life better in some small way.”



“People are organising Pokémon GO outings and walks. This game promotes the value of inclusiveness, and is making people meet other people and add a fresh perspective in life,” Hanke says while describing Pokémon GO as an icebreaker that gives people a reason to spend time together.”

The Poké stops were not chosen at random

John, along with his able team, asked players of Ingress to submit portals in their city that are worthy of visiting. They received 15 million suggestions out of which 5 million were chosen and now appear as Poké Stops and Poké Gyms.


The final launch

Hanke raised a whooping amount of $25 million from Nintendo, Google, the Pokémon company and other investors from Dec 2015 to Feb 2016 and started to prep for the final launch. The team launched Pokémon GO on July 6th and made history in the field of gaming with the game going viral and topping the charts in downloads. With augmented reality and an interface that gets people hooked instantly, Pokémon GO is definitely the sweet result of one man’s vision. 


Sometimes, you have to wait long for some dreams to come true. But when they do, you can taste the success for a very long time. So much respect for Hanke!