Friday, March 1, 2024

Are You Still Playing Pokemon Go?

It brought augmented reality to the forefront of gaming and became the most downloaded, highest earning smartphone app of all time while seemingly reintroducing the world to pocket-monsters. Adorable little rodents with red cheeks or alien-like powerhouses, everyone and their ‘mon… uh, mom… were playing Pokemon Go.

With over two-billion unique downloads to its resume and three-billion dollars earned through in-app purchases, Pokemon Go became a worldwide phenomenon that Niantic never expected. I mean, how could they? Interest in Pokemon had waned ever since the introduction of generation two, even though the most recent installments, Sun and Moon, were huge sellers. Would people really want to walk around town throwing digital pokeballs at make-believe creatures only seen on cellphone screens?

The answer was an astounding yes. Never before had a video game captured the hearts of players in one fowl swoop, and in doing so Pokemon Go became the most talked about title of 2016; and not just because it showed augmented reality to its loyal players. It forced its tappers and swipers to go outside and experience new terrains and long-forgotten landmarks while simultaneously being on the lookout for Pikachu, Jigglypuff and my favorite, Bulbasaur. A game that made you exercise to earn achievements and built relationships between strangers? Unheard of!

I was so excited to play Pokemon Go when it was first released that I made a trip to Verizon just to get an updated phone that would allow me to embark on my first adventure. I took to the game like a duck in water because I was a huge fan of Pokemon when I was in elementary school, and still played older entries in the series every once in a while. Not only that, but I’m a half-marathon runner, which allowed me to hatch eggs, hit up pokestops, and encounter rare Pokemon with lightning speed. I made it halfway to level 39 and then… I quit.

Two weeks after Pokemon Go started rolling out generation four, I uninstalled the game and went through my withdrawals in solitude. The fact of the matter is – Pokemon Go was never the perfect game. Its first version felt more like an unfinished beta and every update after that was handled with a “let’s see if this works” mentality that left every player scratching their head. The most important aspects of the game, a promised real-world feel, player to player battles and frequent exciting encounters, were seemingly left out of the features all together; although I hear some of that was remedied in recent months.

Other complaints were attributed to third-party hosts crashing the server, in-app purchases being too expensive, nests failing to spawn, resources being unavailable in rural areas, and weather making it harder to play the game in late-fall and the dead of winter. My biggest complaint, however, was how addicting and repetitive Pokemon Go became. I was furious whenever I failed to nab a new friend, missed a raid group by thirty seconds or when eggs failed to hatch after the allotted distance was matched. As angry as I became, it only fueled my desire to be the greatest master of them all. Of course, this is mostly my problem, but I know there’s a few of you reading this right now who can relate.

By 2019, Pokemon Go slid to the #4 most downloaded game of the year and its average daily players dwindled to just 147,000,000. That’s literally a loss of 85.4% of its core fan-base. This is commonplace with any video game, as new titles come and go, and you put away the controller you once loved so much in place of a new story. However, the numbers degenerating this fast is staggering, especially when considering Pokemon Go releases new Pokedex entrants, special events and features anywhere from every month to every six months depending on the category. Gone are the days where you could look outside at any time of the day and see people tapping away at their phone screens like psychopaths.

Recently, I reinstalled Pokemon Go and played it for a good ten minutes before giving it a hard pass and uninstalling it again. Once you put this one down, you’re almost guaranteed to lose interest in it forever. Don’t believe me? Just try it. It doesn’t have nearly the same appeal and replay-ability as the handheld console games.

Are you still playing Pokemon Go? If so, I genuinely want to know why? Why are you still holding on? What are you looking forward to in the future as it trudges on with shiny releases and mythical raids? What level are you and what team are you on? Hit up the comments here or on our social media pages and let me know.

Michael Therkelsen

[He/Him] Michael was born and raised at the Jersey Shore and he loves love horror films, video games, hiking and cooking. He auditioned for American Idol in season 6 and worked as a vet tech before finally discovering his passion for writing. He has several short stories available for purchase on e-readers, and is obsessed with UFC, American Ninja Warrior and running half-marathons. With a wide area of interests and hobbies, he's excited to help other people in the LGBT community discovery the world of gaming.

One thought on “Are You Still Playing Pokemon Go?

  • I got back into PokemonGo last December, when my dad told me and my brother to go outside. Nearest pokestops are 5 blocks away, but we have scooters! X)

    When I got back to uni, there were so many pokestops and gyms in a close distance, I was hooked. There’s still an active Pogo community there and having a discord that helps coordinate raids helps a lot! PokemonGo is my first pokemon game lol, so I still have a lot to discover.

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