Pokemon GO: Too little, too late?

Pokemon Go Gen 2

Wow, I didn’t think I would be touching the topic of Pokemon GO again, especially after I “beat” the original game way back when.  Well, the folks over at Niantic have finally rolled out the Gen 2 Pokemon, and I took a look to see what all had happened.

Previously, I was not very happy with how the game was being managed initially.  I really enjoyed the game when I first downloaded it, really enjoyed that there were people all over joining in, and that Pokemon was getting a second wind.

However, Niantic did not handle all the popularity well.  There were rampant server problems (forgivable), removal of features (you did what?), and blatant attempts to further monetize the game (death knell?).  Besides the constant calls of difficulty in finding specific Pokemon, the base game lacked any great gameplay elements.

Porygon Drawing

Once I had completed my Pokedex, I breathed a sigh of relief that I could finally let the game rest.  My last catch, a Porygon, was hailed as a savior as I shut the game off and got back to my backlog pile.

I was a decently high level at the time (30ish) and had the Pokedex full.  I had some good gym defenders and attackers as well.  Problem was, I just didn’t care much anymore.  The initial hype was gone, so it lost some of its social appeal to play with friends.  I had no motivation to hunt down rare Pokemon.  Levels meant nothing and were basically a grind at that point.

Pokemon Go Gym Battle Hypno Eevee

The gym system was broken in my area.  I could drive around and try to grab a few coins before the bots would swarm in and gobble everything up.  Most human players in my area were Blue and Red, so Yellow’s Instinct was full of bots with names appended 1 through 9 to take and hold every gym in the area.  Not exactly fun, and again, back to a basic grind.

I kept up on some minor updates they added to the game, saw the seasonal events, the introduction of Ditto.  They seemed to add some quality of life updates, but also made changes folks weren’t happy about (like reducing 10k eggs).

Pichu Egg Pokemon Go

I kept wondering, what would be enough to bring someone like me back?  I played daily during the Fall, I spent money on space upgrades, I walked and ran everywhere to get candies and hatch eggs.

I’ve said it before on this blog, my favorite Pokemon game in the series is Gold and Silver.  It brought so many great changes, and was riding the hype I had after the originals had released.  To this day its still my favorite “ecosystem” of Pokemon.  Could this be the key to getting someone like me back in the game?

Gen 2 Pokemon

It’s an interesting proposition because there are several factors to balance.  Pokemon GO has been bleeding users for awhile, as would be expected.  It’s just a mobile game after all, and those games only have so much life.

However, Pokemon is an IP near and dear to many.  On the other hand, most people are generally familiar with the Charizard and Mewtwo’s of the first generation, and were not die hard fans of the series that stuck through to Gen 2 (although many still did).

It’s also been winter in the Northern Hemisphere, which is not conducive to a game promoting getting out and about.  The Gen 2 release had to battle to bring back the more casual fans, while also accounting for weather to drive a resurgence.

Gen 2 Starters Pokemon Go

So Niantic went in.  They have now released Gen 2 unto the world.  It’s still February, which means its pretty cold in most places.  Is it the right spark?

Well, at this point, I have reopened the game and caught a few things.  I have not volunteered to go anywhere outside my humble abode to catch anything, just opening the app to see whats new.  I caught a Spinarak and a Sentret.  Not exactly flashy, but it was cool seeing the Gen 2 Pokemon in the game.

However, I don’t think it will be enough of a spark.  I think the game has run out of its initial surge.  Just hoping to find a Pokemon and then throwing increasingly difficult to accumulate pokeballs hoping it works an X% of the time is just not very engaging gameplay.

Team Mystic Symbol

And this is coming from someone who was an absolute fanatic for the base game.  I would drive long distances when I saw local postings of potential nests.  I would go places late at night because there were rumors that the spawns timed to be in the middle of the night.  I only evolved under the egg method.  I posted often here describing the optimal strategies.

I think I had always been hoping they would push life into the game given the massive reception.  That Gen 2 could quickly be integrated, maybe trading (I still have multiple regionals to trade for their counterparts), and a deeper combat system.  How about battling friends?

As it stands, Pokemon Go touts its main appeal as the journey – travel to new spots and see what you can find.  Problem is, once that majesty has washed away the game loses appeal.  There’s nothing to fall back on – no solid gameplay, no story, no side strategy.  Not to mention that the game has been analyzed to death, reducing it to percentages in many cases.

Togepi crying

Basically, I’m sad to see that Pokemon Go, a game with which I thought had great potential, come up so short in my own opinion.  There was so much promise of a deeper experience, and with the release of my favorite brand of new Pokemon not reigniting my interest, I think this missed potential is the real lackluster putoff for me.

Maybe I’ll come around someday.  I’ll definitely be taking a look at Super Mario Run and the new Fire Emblem mobile game, which I initially avoided to avoid similar disappointment.  I’ve read through a lot of the great bloggers around here’s reviews and I’m gonna give them a shot.  For now though, Pokemon Go has not managed redemption in my eyes.

 

What are your thoughts on the new updates?  Have you continued to keep playing?  Is this a good spark?  Comment below!

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19 thoughts on “Pokemon GO: Too little, too late?

  1. It’s only natural that the player base would die down. Nothing could maintain that insane level of popularity. It’s nice that they are still supporting the game with new content, even if they haven’t added features to bolster the gameplay.

    Fire Emblem Heroes is fun and I am still playing it. In a similar vein to Go though a lot of players have gotten bored of that title too.

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  2. I just play this game really casually- when I’m at a store or something, I’ll turn it on really quick to see if anything pops up. I don’t go out of my way to play it, but it’s still fun in short bursts. I can see why people would tire of it, though. 😦

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  3. To be honest, that’s kind of the trajectory I expected, going by how other games have worked. White hot for a while, then interest fades and stagnates until the next big game comes out. It’s good that they’re doing something to try to keep interest, I would think they’d need significant systems additions, and not having played, I don’t get the impression that the simple addition of new pokemon would quite do that.

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    • Yes, the mobile game life cycle is typically short lived. Niantic definitely needs new system additions, but I think more importantly should learn about how they communicate with the player base, which seemed to aggravate the shortcomings.

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  4. I have not played this game. It is seems like an interesting idea, using a mobile phone to find and catch Pokémon like a character from the game. It was also strangely nostalgic, listening to how Pokémon was becoming such a widespread phenomenon like when the original game, cards and TV series were originally released. The description of driving around finding Pokémon and venturing late at night to find spawn points possibly indicate why the game lost popularity, there were probably safety concerns associated with trying to locate rare Pokémon, although it does seem like an interesting way to explore local areas and experience familiar places in a new way. I am surprised there is no multiplayer though, it seems like a casual game that could benefit by allowing people (particularly non-gamers) to play it socially and compete with friends.
    I have little experience of the playing the Pokémon Gold and Silver games, why are these games better than the original games? How does the Pokémon Red and Blue fit into the game? Can you choose which type of game to play? How does the game make money? Was Ditto introduced to the game later?

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    • Pokémon Go just used the original 150 from Red and Blue and recently added the additional Pokémon from Gold and Silver, so it’s just about available Pokémon. Ditto and some others have been held back for certain events, and ditto was recently introduced into the game. The game uses micro transactions to make money, such as buying in game items.

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  5. Niantic definitely missed the ball with this one. That said, I’m one of several stragglers who are still enjoying the new updates. I see people playing it every now and then, though I live near a big city. There’s definitely a fanbase for this game, and there will be set individuals who will keep playing it. However, Niantic could have done so much better to retain players by rolling out these important updates earlier.

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    • My biggest complaint with Niantic was their lack of communication with the player base. No word when things got dicey, no explanation of changes to the game, etc. Perhaps they have gotten better, but first impressions last I guess.

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  6. I never got into Pokemon Go and don’t plan too. The concept just doesn’t interest me for whatever reason. I’ll likely be trying Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Mobile at some point, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on them.

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  7. Yeah this is right on the money, unfortunately. I have come back a little, catching new Pokemon when they are in sight. But a shadowy unknown Pokemon, isn’t enough to make me walk over somewhere just to catch it.

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  8. It really was sad watching it lose interest after the overnight explosion of players. Everyone at work was playing it, and I work in a big city (arguably where the best gameplay was had). Like you said though, once the initial magic was gone, there wasn’t anything to bring it back.

    I do commend you on completely your Pokedex though! Truly an impressive feat – I think I caught about 85 or so. Some of them I didn’t even think were introduced to the game yet, especially Porygon (seriously where the heck did you even find a Porygon…).

    One of the biggest issues for me was that I live in the suburbs, so traveling around by bike was my mode of transportation, but, only so many would spawn at a given time. Either way, it got me out and about and I had a blast the few weeks while it lasted. I’ll probably play a bit (when I remember to) to catch a few of the new ones! They certainly made tracking them a lot easier!

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    • They definitely needed to help areas that lacked Pokémon diversity. But even in urban areas, they did not add any interesting systems that have purpose other than collecting. Gym system was shallow and broken (at least where I live). Sigh, at least it shows the power of the IP that is Pokémon.

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