While trying to provide some helpful information about Niantic and even some solutions to some problems keep in mind this is still just an individual experience. I do hope something positive can come out of it for other players and Niantic.
Curious do people still play Pokemon Go? Yes people still play Pokemon Go but I stopped why some may wonder why? Here today we will delve into why I stopped playing from my personal experience.
There are all types of new features Niantic has been hard at work implementing since releasing the mobile video game. From release the mobile game has become increasingly more casual. This is done so that a broad audience of players can pick up the game and have fun. Though the marketing and development is working how long will it work?
Back in the fall of 2018 I posted a review on what keeps me training on. Well now Summer 2019 and I have stopped training on in Pokemon Go. I still play the main series but I simply ceased playing Pokemon Go for good. So what happened why would a seasoned trainer who has played through the many other generations stop training in this game? In my previous review I stated it was all about perspective and having fun right what has changed?
Well in order to answer these questions we need to take some subjects into consideration. First we examine battling in Pokemon and why it is an integral aspect of Pokemon yet is still under development in Pokemon Go. Then we examine the importance of setting balance in a video game another subject that can sometimes feel disregarded by game developers. Next we take a look at how mobile games can keep some players for so long without offering anything that any other video game can provide and that is fun. After we compare some of Niantic throughout the years because there are some differences that get overlooked. We end with why I stopped in a humble explanation.
Played any of the main series Pokemon games than you would know what battling is and what it means. That meaning can have many forms. You could just be a benign Trainer wanting to train side by side with your favorite Pocket Monsters and see them though to some fullest power Level 100. Perhaps you are competitive Trainer and thoroughly enjoy hatching eggs for endless amounts of battle ready Pokemon. Quite possibly more often than not you may be reminiscent of trainer Ash always aspiring to be the very best while in face of certain failure and come out stronger than ever.
Becoming champion in the Pokemon game is a fun triumph. In 2016 Pokemon Sun and Moon were released and with them came a whole new take on being the champion of the Elite Four. A welcomed change as every time you face off against the Elite Four you would have to defend the title as Champion from a different challenger.
Defeating the Battle facilities throughout each series is no easy feat and makes for a very fun challenge. Bring your best skills and Pokemon or you will be put though the ringer its Real-Time Strategy at its finest. It is similar to a game of chess with an AI. The opposing AI has exact knowledge of what you can do but never of what you will do. After 40-60 consecutive wins each battle would get much more difficult as your Pokemon the AI is capable of playing with RNG making it so the worst case scenario happens. It is up to your own Trainer level and Pokemon to seeing if you can persevere coming on top each battle. Some make it to the 200s while fewer make it to the 1000s.
All of these always have something to offer. Even if you never really liked to seeing the Pokemon injured than no worries as of Pokemon X and Y going onward Poke Anime was added a feature that allowed you to play with the Pokemon. A cool feature that gave you even more interaction with your beloved partners.
Well in Pokemon Go you get none of that even after a battling feature was introduced. Oh what’s that how about a snapshot feature slightly less interesting than a normal AR+. Wait what about AR+? Well Niantic for the longest time put off support for Android phones. Then in the fall of 2018 a lovely bug came about when normal AR photos would not save for Android devices. Oh how I cherish the memory of catching my Celebi but I would have loved to keep the 50 plus photos I had of it in this one lush area abundant with all types of vegetation. A notification sent out would have prevented that and I could just screenshot all those photos of course without the signature name so nobody would ever know who took those photos. I could always AR snapshot it but it will never make those cool animations again which was what made those photos so attractive. Mew was the biggest disappointment because since it would automatically go to AR+ I got the normal screen with Mew not even being invisible. Keep in mind this was during the period AR+ was not supported on Android devices.
The one little aspect I could use to interact with my Pokemon were unreliable mainly because of software issues within the game. Connection is never the issue and neither is congestive collapse where I play. My Samsung S8 ran perfectly fine so both hardware and software issues from my end were out of the question.
Besides having meaningless battles and unreliable software I persisted on for a little while longer until balancing caught up with me.
The Need for a set Balance
Every video game and mobile game requires some set of balance or rules in order to prevent stagnant gameplay or pay to be more “efficient” gameplay.
This was never the case in Pokemon Go. Back in July 2016 I picked Team Instinct not fully knowing what I was doing at time. Playing today picking Team Instinct is the equivalent of picking hard difficulty. Team Valor being normal difficulty and Team Mystic being easy difficulty.
Today looking back I have to wonder what Product Management could have done at the time? This is a glaring issue that does not really get talked about teams. The only reason it is an issue is because there are some benefits to raiding with fellow team members. Again where was Product Management mindset on this? Before Ultra Friends was a thing I was stuck with 7- 8 Premiere Balls for every Tier 4 and Tier 5. We all know that RNG is finicky and the more Premiere Balls you have the greater the chance of catching the Pokemon. Well the current solution is change teams by purchasing a team medallion almost three years later.
In a time before the team medallion. How can I protect a Gym when it is just me? Battling gyms is encouraged and apart from normal gameplay. So naturally people would see my single Pokemon and see easy pickings for coin or for some trolling (Team Instinct is not well liked apparently). My gyms were so vulnerable that I had to resort to using taboo Pokemon supposedly. The likes of Blissey and Snorlax were powered up and added to my defensive roaster. Yet according to Niantic they never intended to make Blissey such a great defender even though it is naturally in the main series. Legendaries can not be put in gyms so the next best thing was a Blissey. Remember that it’s only one Blissey per Gym.
When Niantic “rebalanced” stats they essentially nerfed Blissey by adjusting the stats and CP making it take less time to take down. OK well I never complained about having to deal with 6 Pokemon full CP. The likes of which usually consisted of Blissey, Chansey, Snorlax, Slaking, Vaporeon, Salamence, or Dragonite. Granted it would take me some time to clear out the Gym especially if I was being trolled with Golden Razz Berries. Yet I did not mind. Others could not be bothered by such a task so they bombarded Niantic with complaining about Blissey and how it takes to long to take out.
I could catch legendaries with 7- 8 Premier Balls but not everyone else has the time, patience or experience to carry out such a task. If I take down a Gym in a rather reasonable 5-10 minutes anyone else can do it. On top of this, these are optional tasks not a necessary to gameplay especially when you can buy coins and can catch Pokemon from other activities.
So why did Niantic disregard the balance they themselves inadvertently set in place. Could it be because none of some staff members really tests gameplay. Could be that they know what they are doing and prefer to market a certain type of way. I do not know because any Pokemon Go Trainer with some experience knows a team of 6 Machamp can easily take care of most gyms. So why did they go though with this “rebalance”? Not everyone has the time or patience to play the game and acquire a team of 6 battle ready Machamps I understand that.
It certainly did not feel like a “rebalance” especially when they went back again in 2019 and made Raid Bosses even more bulky. This was done because very few people were soloing Tier 4 and Tier 5 raids. Making sure that you need a few more people for some raids.
To be honest it felt more like a marketing tactic to me a tactic that draws in users in hopes of converting them to becoming a more active player. Now that could be because I have a hand in the marketing industry or maybe it’s just a skeptical opinion.
I put a lot of work into my Chansey walking with my pink buddy for miles at a time for that one extra candy. All for it just be made meaningless with an update. I worked a good part of four months to amass the required candy why could Trainers not be bothered by 5-10 minutes of battling? Blissey is still top Defender but that stat change and CP reduction did hurt its overall performance as a defender. Its not like anyone would seriously use Blissey for an attacker. I figured this would have happened seeing that Lapras was hit hard by Niantic’s early nerfing but I lied to myself. Niantic would not do that again right (said in solemn voice)?
Pay up but for What
2018 sure was an interesting year for Pokemon Go. Events like Community Day and Special Raid Weekends were added to the game. Right around November it hit me before they announced December’s Community Day.
Listen this is a Free to Play mobile game. All these events as content are released in hopes of attracting player activity and possibly in-app purchases. I thought about it they were going to do one of two things. Either they would continue Community Day as usual with a newly featured Pokemon and Community Day Move. Or they capitalize on 2018’s hype and do a mix up where every community day Pokemon featured is out. Thereby attracting more activity from a broader set of audience. At the same time this also gives a little more time to ride out the event as content hype and interest without actually releasing anything new.
You see having spent a passable amount of time working with RNG from the main series I was suspicious. I am a gambling man and love that GameFreak always gave me some form of increasing the odds to my favor. Still, I understand that even with everything done right on my end RNG is still random and may not always yield the result I want. Immediately I wondered what are the odds of getting the shiny or high IV Pokemon you want on December’s Community Day. The odds were especially low with how many Pokemon were available. Players that lived in an area plagued by a Mega Nest were done for.
Of course try to have fun. Hanging with the local community certainly makes a great experience. An aspect exclusive to Pokemon Go, Ingress and that oddball Harry Potter Wizards Unite.
The only option most had was pop Incenses and Lure Modules then hope for the best. But these do not drop from any item source and cost coins to purchase. These items only give you more chances to find what you want of course and is by no way a guarantee.
It leaves me wondering what are really paying for when you purchase items from the in-app store? Just a chance at a Pokemon? Team Rocket is not even that sketchy they at least make you pony up at Lake Rage so you can pass and encounter a shiny Gyarados.
The current raid system works out in some areas but not around the whole world. 200+ raid passes make for a great way to fill up bag space but not for really for raiding in rural areas. The pokestops and gyms in my area are spread out with next to no raid activity. I would have to turn to chain raiding which is something that I have no interest in partaking in.
Comparison Over the Years
Completing the Pokedex is a time-consuming task indeed. It was fun rounding up the Kanto Pokemon. Back when everyone was at Level 20. Now everyone has long moved passed completing the Kanto Region and is focused on the Sinnoh Region. Completing the Pokedex is really just a side gig in Pokemon Go anyways. You get a gold medal and some bragging rights that’s it. Really no acknowledgment is given from any of the developers of the dedicated effort.
When the Kanto Pokemon was released it was only the legendary Pokemon and mythical Pokemon that were unavailable to capture through wild encounters which was fine. As of today some non legendary Pokemon are still unreleased while others were tied to certain event days or breakthroughs.
Most of the changes developed to motivate playing has been deterring me from wanting to play. The game is essentially making it take much longer to do anything. This is made worse by adding a rather steep stardust cost. Since there is no method of grinding for stardust other than popping a star piece then off you go to do some catching or raiding.
What could be done to mitigate the time it takes to amass stardust is either reduce the cost which is never going to happen. Or simply give people more stardust for the task they already perform nothing game breaking of course.
Play turned into work
To be honest the playful endeavor of this game turned into work. This made the game no longer fun for me. Not to say it is not a fun game to play, many people have fun playing, some are even experiencing Pokemon for the first time through Pokemon Go. Some active players have yet to see Gen 5 Pokemon let alone Gen 6 Pokemon as they dropped playing Pokemon long ago.
For some reason though we have all been introduced to a Gen 8 Pokemon who can be obtained by playing one of the Pokemon Let’s Go games.
I stayed training on in the other generations and even entered some tournaments. But will no longer continue in Pokemon Go for a number of reasons. Ever purchase Lucky Eggs, Star Pieces, and Incenses? Ever use them only to experience some in game error while activated. I have had many of mine sessions disrupted by all types of issues. Ever enter a Raid only to lag out, rejoin then lag out again. If your like me you have lost a fair share of Premium Raid Passes because of software issues. Ever lose a shiny because you thought AR+ was reliable and would not crash. Yup I have it sucks and can be frustrating considering it is a core feature. Pokemon Go is marketed as a AR game so my bad for being so trusting.
Most of what I found fun came from myself, rarely ever did it come from playing the actual game which at times can be a real bummer. My little road to Gyarados was fun because I made it fun but it could have been avoided had a roadmap been created of what was required to get a Mew Special Research Encounter. I evolved my perfect IV Charizard the day before community day Charmender was announced. Ouch she will always be the best in spirit similar to Alain’s Charizard from the anime. Everyone in Pokemon Go knows that a Charizard with Blast Burn is far better off than a Charizard with Dragon Claw because of how Niantic designed stats in Pokemon Go, thanks damage per second.
Niantic has a pattern of being rather silent when it would have helped so much more if they were a little more transparent with what they were planning. Despite the many short comings I always tried to make light of the situation. Currently I just can not bring myself to play and when I do it is for the wrong reasons. I used to just play just to play. Lately that has not been the case when I open the app I would see the event notifications and cringe slightly. Apparently today everyone has to adhere to certain event days in order to catch every Pokemon.
What if you already have the year planned? Niantic’s event model essentially disregards the fact that not everyone can change their schedule around just to catch a silly Pokemon on a specific day. You could not make it oh well find someone who will trade it oh but if it’s not registered in the Pokedex it will be a special trade though, cool what an experience (said sarcastically). What ever happened to searching far and wide?
The whole premise around Lucky Pokemon also had a role in turning me away. It was like a walking down a sketchy alleyway in a big bustling city and having some stranger in a trench coat with a Niantic logo whisper “hey Trainer you want some Lucky Pokemon I could help ya but it will cost you some serious patience?” “How about a year for a better chance at a lucky or how about two years for a slightly better chance and a steep three years if you have yet to own 10 Lucky Pokemon for whatever reason.” Excuse me! Not even Team Rocket would stoop to such a low tactic and they sold slowpoke tails for human consumption? This is essentially a method of drawing players into the game for the long haul. If there was an alternative other than just a random RNG based chance with your Best Friends from your friends list than it would have been better received.
I had my fun and I hope others will continue to have fun playing Pokemon Go. I wish everyone luck and happy hunting in their adventures. As for me I will keep training on in the main series and I for one am looking forward to seeing what becomes of the new title in the fall. With Pokemon Home coming perhaps I can become a Pokemon Exporter of sorts. 719 Pokemon combined with the additions from Ultra Sun and Moon we now have a grand total of 807 Pokemon (not all 807 are available within the same game to date). This not including different Battle Ready IVs, EVs, Abilities or Special Egg Moves.
Do you still play Pokemon Go? Do you have fun playing? If so drop a comment below explaining what makes the game fun for you. If not then explain what made the game not so fun or what made the game uninteresting to you. As always if you have any further relevant comments or questions feel free to drop them below as well.