Pokémon Go has become quite the phenomenon, eclipsing most other mobile apps and being something that many who have followed the Pokémon franchise have dreamed about for years. The ability to catch Pokémon in real life. Whilst we aren’t quite at the stage where Pokémon are real things, augmented reality has paved the way for players to get as close to that as possible. The only other way a player could get any closer to a virtual Pokémon would be in Virtual reality. Which equally sounds incredible to one day stand alongside a Blastoise in a virtual world.
Whether you love or hate this new trend, Pokémon Go has potentially opened a new door for augmented reality games, and many will probably say that the games success lies heavily with Pokémon being such a recognizable brand for all generations. That being said, Go is not Niantic’s first AR game. Their most successful app and the foundation of Pokemon Go is Ingress. A game where real-world landmarks are portals and players battle for control of them. Go has a similar premise except instead of portals, each team battles for control of gyms. And depending on where you live, really depends on the length of time you can hold one down. There are three teams to choose from, Valor, Mystic, or Instinct. The choice has no bearing on the game itself just when it comes to gyms, if one is your teams colour then you can power it up in order to put your Pokémon in. It should be noted that each player can only have one Pokémon in a single gym. The bonus of holding down a number of gyms is rewarded through coins and stardust.
Currently, all Go has is the Pokémon of Generation One, Gyms, and PokeStops. The features promised such as trading and PVP have yet to added but I imagine as the game continues to be rolled out across the globe, these features will eventually be added. The game on paper has the potential to do really well despite it being a mobile app and in a lot of cases, mobile games aren’t held to the same level of standards as other console games. And whilst the mainstream media has rather unsurprisingly demonized the game at times. The reality is that there has been an overwhelmingly positive response by the community leading to organised events and more. With the addition that many stops are located on top of shops or restaurants, some businesses have also seen a potential profit. Ultimately, Pokemon Go has done a lot more for businesses than most governments ever will. With the added incentive to go outside, Go has also done wonders for social interaction leading to the inevitable three-way gym battle standoffs. The game is still in its infancy so the potential for it go beyond what it is now, is definitely there.
However, sadly the game has been plagued with a number of issues. In the beginning, the only way to track Pokémon was with the in-game tracker. It worked by having three steps eventually decrease the closer you got to a certain Pokémon. Now for whatever reason, since Niantic isn’t very open with its player base, that feature is either broken or disabled. Leading too many players resorting to using a tracking site like Pokevision to at least give people an idea where Pokémon are spawning. However, presently Pokevision is no longer available to use to track Pokémon locations and with no steps, there’s still no way to actively track Pokémon in the game. So it’s not surprising that people are getting more and more frustrated with the developers. Other issues include crashes and freezes. But, with the most recent update, that issue at least from personal experience is all but gone, along with the fleeing Pokémon glitch freezing if you go into the items screen.
Niantic’s failure to fix the 3 steps bug has led to the community, getting increasingly frustrated, and in the end, it just boils down to wanting more communication with the developers. There’s an entire subreddit dedicated to the game and not the even community manager is involved with it. Leading to the player base feeling neglected. If Niantic wants this game to carry on growing, it needs to do more to reach out to its player base, especially online with social media sites.
The final thing I need to mention is that there are growing issues regarding GPS spoofers. A method that involves faking player location. Allowing players to move around from the comfort of their own homes. This cheat has been used by a large number of twitch streamers, and to this day I’ve only seen only one stream where a player is actually outside playing the game. This method of cheating isn’t just cheating other players but it’s cheating themselves.
In my opinion, GPS spoofers might as well play the DS or Gameboy games. It’s the same principle except you’re not directly affecting other users when you play Pokémon FireRed or X and Y unless of course, you have hacked your Pokémon. In which case, I wonder why you even play the game. With Pokémon Go, spoofing is like giving yourself unlimited ammo or god mode in an fps game. It may be fun for you but it inevitably irritates everyone else. Especially if you directly affect the control of gyms. The unlimited inventory might as well be part of this cheat since players’ teleport from poke-stop to poke-stop more than a roaming Abra, giving them easy access to items. This isn’t just one person, though, but a large number of players. The main excuse is that the rural players have it far harder than city players, and I to some extent agree with that. Whilst I am against spoofing, with Wi-Fi connections so bad in the countryside, I can understand why a rural player may do it. I disagree with the method but Niantic has made little effort to consider the rural player base. The other type of spoofer is ones you can see on twitch, sitting at their computers grinding levels until there’s no reason for them to play. They aren’t even using their mobile for this but their computers. This epidemic of this kind of cheating could really run this game into the ground.
Overall, aside from the cheaters and Niantic’s lack of customer service the game runs flawlessly for the most part. And the most recent update has made the game run a lot smoother. Despite a lot of paranoia from the player base, I am optimistic that Niantic will add tracking back to the game and along with the features advertised. The game is fun for the most part and gets people outside socializing. There’s really nothing more I could ask for, except maybe gen 3 instead of gen 2. Is this game going to have a long lifespan? That all depends on Niantic’s ability to stabilize the servers and keep them up and running. Will this game also open the door for other AR games? Yes, it will. Will they receive the same recognition and hype that allowed Pokémon Go to become a worldwide phenomenon? That all depends on the contents and the developers behind it. Finally, would I recommend Pokémon Go? Yes, if you are a fan of the franchise you will love it, if you are already an active person then this game can easily fit into your schedule. It may be early days but this game still has life in it. It just depends on whether or not Niantic listens to the community and improves upon what they have currently. As presently, there are a lot of angry customers who simply want transparency. And that is really not much to ask for.