Update: Tastuo Nomura, one of the lead developers behind Pokémon GO at Niantic, confirmed at E3 2016 that Pokémon GO did indeed begin with Google’s April Fools’ Day joke back in 2013.
“Pokémon GO really got its start back in 2013 when we did an April Fools’ project with Google, the Pokémon Challenge,” he said on Nintendo’s E3 2016 livestream.
This joke brought together Tsunekazu Ishihara from The Pokémon Company, Junichi Masuda from Game Freak (the development team behind the mainline Pokémon games) and Nomura, who was working at Google Maps at the time and went on to join Niantic, the studio behind Pokémon GO.
Pokémon GO, the game that overtook the internet and led to a 25 percent jump in Nintendo stock prices, might have begun as part of an April Fools’ joke in 2014.
In the joke, Google released a mock announcement looking to hire a Pokémon trainer. The video mentioned a new Google Maps function that would let users catch and find Pokémon in the real world, called Pokémon Challenge.
According to BuzzFeed News, development on the Pokémon GO app also began in 2014, the year that the prank video was released. In 2014, Niantic Labs, the company that created the viral game, was part of Google.
Watch Google’s April Fools’ day prank video below.