Feb 24, 2020

Playing Pokémon Go in 2020

A review of Pokémon Go, made in 2020
This game was an amazing hit in 2016 - the world seemed to get obsessed with catching those fantastic creatures. People purchased new phones and power banks only to be able to play Pokémon Go. Even non-gaming media released detailed guides on how to catch 'em all. The revenue of Niantic, the development company, was phenomenal. So, what’s now? How is it to play Pokemon Go in 2020?

The popularity of the game is not at its peak at all. The gaming world loves to follow trends, and the Augmented Reality genre is not the biggest one nowadays. We still have interesting releases, such as Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and upcoming Minecraft Earth, but the fuss around them is never the same loud. Still, even with the much smaller quantity of active players, Pokémon Go remains the most successful AR game, and Niantic earns with it even more than in the starting year.

The game develops:
#Memory     #Planning     #Sociability     #Accuracy     #Constancy

Tons of content

For those who somehow forgot the gameplay, I’ll remind it very briefly. So, Pokémon live around us and we can see them through our smartphones. Also, we can catch them to make a collection and take these creatures to various battles. The idea is very similar to the core series of Pokémon RPGs but with the big difference of tight connection to the real-world location.

After the release, players got a kind of basic version - with just creatures of the first generation and many features planned for the future. At the beginning of 2020, you can catch up to 649 Pokémon of fife generations (including very rare legendary creatures that appear for a limited time at special events). This number becomes bigger, and it’s quite possible that the developers will add all the Pokémon up to the most recent Pokémon Sword and Shield (and even upcoming games).

On one hand, it’s a good thing to make the Pokédex bigger - players have more creatures to look for. On the other hand, the ambition to catch them all becomes almost impossible. In the game, you have no story to complete, and the only substantial goal of filling the Pokédex asks for hard work and strong dedication.

New content in Pokemon Go includes an impressive variety of supportive items, special missions, and time-limited events. Something is always happening in the game - many initial ideas have been implemented, so players got the game they expected. As a result, you cannot get bored by the lack of content. And still, like with the quantity of Pokémon - you can get bored by how pointless these activities are. It’s a problem with all games as a service. Endless adventures promise endless excitement, but at some point players become ready to move forward in their gaming life.

Hungry for attention

Pokémon Go is a successful commercial project. It has a free-to-play business model and moves the path of many other mobile titles - the game sells you various items and tries to keep your attention for as long as possible.

The free-to-play model has been implemented by Niantic very decently. Players really don’t have to pay and can enjoy totally free gameplay. Still, I regularly get the message about no space for new Pokémon. This happens unexpectedly, and clearing the Pokédex from identical creatures is quite a tedious work (compare their stats, decide whom to remain). Coins from Gym Battles help to purchase additional slots and some crucial items, but it’s hard to have enough of them. 

It’s totally OK to purchase coins for real money and remove many annoying inconveniences - especially if you like the game and want to support it. At the same time, it’s so easy to spend lots and lots of money and just lose them, because like other free-to-play games, Pokémon Go knows no limits. Tons of content always gives a new reason to spend more.

Attention of players is something that powers mobile games first of all. Without multiple tricks to make you open the application again and again, developers risk losing players (and their money). Pokémon Go is one of the most hungry for attention. You will have countless reasons to stare at your smartphone all the time - new Pokémon can appear, a Gym or PokéStop may be here, the egg is hatching, friends send gifts, your buddy Pokémon asks for a treat…

The biggest problem with this game is in its very core - it’s out there with you everywhere. It’s not like console or PC games that need your attention at a specific time. Pokémon Go never ends, and this is not OK at all to get distracted by it all the time.

Power of the franchise

I like Pokémon Go and delve into it time after time. The periods of my activity in this game become shorter and often I stop myself intentionally from starting a new wave of obsession.

I like to collect Pokémon, and I got them all in the Pokémon Sun game. The idea of doing this in Pokémon Go is exciting, but it asks for too much effort. Activities in the game are super interesting, but I can’t imagine myself playing this only game - the variety of gaming experiences attracts me more.

The biggest problem with Pokémon Go is its very genre of ongoing location-based mobile games. It's hard to imagine something doing better in this niche, but the genre has some significant downsides, and it seems like the further development of Pokémon Go won’t be able to solve them.

I know, the game has many dedicated fans. Most of the players love it as a part of the Pokémon franchise, as one of the components of a much bigger adventure. In 2020, we have lots of great Pokémon games to enjoy, and Go is one of them - for me, it’s a very good one but not the best. 

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Ever Oasis is a game from 2017. It offers perfect adventures in 2020 and beyond - probably, because this is a story-driven game with its logical end. Here is a review of Ever Oasis on the gaming blog Very Good Games:

Ever Oasis - game review on the gaming blog Very Good Games