As the first anniversary of Pokémon Go's release approaches, developer Niantic has revealed it will finally introduce the ability to battle with friends this summer. Better still, the developer says legendary Pokémon will be made available to capture for the very first time.

The news comes from Niantic exec Mathieu de Fayet who was interviewed by Brazilian newspaper O Globo (translated by Go Nintendo). He revealed the game has been downloaded 650 million times and has 65 million players, but the team still wonders how to keep people interested.

"Right now we are working on some that are due to hit this summer," he says, "such as giving more value to the choice of the teams, releasing Legendary Pokémon and introducing PvP [player vs player]."

Players have been wondering when legendary Pokémon such as the first generation's Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, Mewtwo and Mew would be introduced to the game since it launched in July 2016 and became a global phenomenon.

Likewise with player-versus-player battles. To date, battling in Go has been limited to scuffles against opponents left by other players to defend gym locations, but controlled by the game.

Details are scarce as to how the features will take shape. The game's original trailer suggested legendary Pokémon would be appear in single locations where players would gather to battle and hopefully capture the beasts.

Niantic added the bulk of Pokémon from the second generation of games back in February. The six legendary Pokémon from that group - Raikou, Entei, Suicune, Lugia, Ho-Oh and Celebi - were not included, so they could also appear this summer.

Since the introduction of new Pokémon, a number of live events focusing on specific types of Pokémon and, over Easter, eggs, have also helped keep players invested.

The news comes shortly after The Pokémon Company released its latest earnings report, which showed the incredible impact Pokémon Go has had. Profits were up 2450% year on year, totaling $143.3 million (£111.6m).

The success of Pokémon Sun and Moon on Nintendo 3DS will have also impacted the report.

Pokemon Go Legendary Birds
Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres in The Pokémon Movie. The Pokémon Company

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