The rise and (relative) fall of the most popular game of 2016
I wanna be the very best, at Pokémon Go…
Before going out: check handphone.
Riding bus: check phone.
Getting on bus: phone is on, and on its surface,
A wild Pikachu appears! Gotta catch ‘em all!
These are the daily habits of your average Pokémon Trainer, except that these Pokémon exist only within the confines of the augmented reality (AR) smartphone game, Pokémon GO (also called PoGO), that is sweeping the world. PoGO, made for mobile devices, was created as a collaboration between Niantic Labs (creators of Ingress), Nintendo, and The Pokémon Company. It allows players to journey to real-world locations to find and catch wild Pokémon, as well as battle in Gyms.
However, sceptics have called PoGO a fad, and the hype has certainly faded recently.
What happened to all that hype? Here are some reasons we think have caused its decline:
- Extremely battery-draining
The game requires access to your data, Wi-Fi, GPS and camera (for the admittedly overrated AR), which all eats into your battery.
Adding to the fact that catching Pokémon is a random endeavour, walking around a public park while lugging around a fully-charged phone and power bank becomes a necessity to advance to the higher levels of PoGO. Not everyone can be continually motivated (though from personal experience, the hint of a Snorlax in the area is still enough to cause traffic jams).
That is the electric mouse eating at your battery – and no, it does not increase the power of Thunderbolt.
- Few features
This game doesn’t really have much of a plot beyond “Congrats, you’re a trainer, now go catch Pokémon and join one of these three teams!”
Sure, players would initially be excited at the thought of catching every Pokémon available, but… this motivation would start to die down after seeing the same few Pokémon every day.
An improvement is that Niantic has recently released a buddy system in-game to allow players to accumulate Pokémon candies more easily by walking/ jogging/ moving. Even so, while players can fight gym battles, there aren’t any features that allow players to fight one another…yet. Your best buddy in real life can’t fight you with his best virtual buddy, which is a pity for the AR.
- Limited in Pokémon
Only Pokémon from the 1st generation are currently available. Custom will stale the infinite variety, in this case.
Dear Niantic, perhaps it’s time to release more Pokémon? Or maybe lift the region-locking for certain species – that’s a great option in my opinion. Also, now that there is lighter burden on the servers, solving the battery problem would become a greater priority.
With the upcoming release of Nintendo’s Pokémon Sun and Moon this November, it remains to be seen if 2016 will become the Year of the Pokémon. Niantic, good luck!