Pokemon Go Faze Over?
Released on July 6, 2016, Pokémon Go took the world by storm. Overnight, the free-to-play app skyrocketed to the top of the charts as millions of people were instantly hooked. Being able to explore your neighborhood or city, hunting for rare mystical creatures while being active, seemed to strike a chord amongst the masses. Within the first week of its launch, the app had been downloaded over fifteen million times, making it the fastest game to reach the number one slot on the App Store and Google Play.
Pokémon Go appeared to be unstoppable as it accumulated over $160 million in in-game purchases during its first 30 days, but roughly four months after its grand debut, the app is on the edge of catastrophic collapse. So what happened to the once popular game that seemed to break the barrier between video games and exercise?
The idea behind Pokémon Go was simple – walk around your town or nearest city and collect your favorite Pokémon characters. Depending on what time of day it was, only certain Pokémon were able to be caught. While intriguing at first, players soon found the core element of the game to be too simplistic, causing many members to grow bored and eventually delete the app.
The one aspect of the game that kept people interested at first were the battle gyms highlighted by large, rotating cylinders. Players could use the Pokémon they had found to battle against another Pokémon. If a player managed to take the gym, then the team they had picked would take control. This created a sense of unity and comradery amongst the millions of players, yet the mechanics of the battle were rudimentary and repetitive. Like the exploring element, there wasn’t much to battling and players were discouraged as it was easily mastered.
While these elements could have simply been upgraded, Niantic, the game’s developer, took a different approach and decided to disable the tracking system. The tracking system allowed players to see which creatures were around them and how far they were. During the initial release, the tracking came under fire as it was inaccurate and buggy. What would have been another simple fix turned into a critical blow for Niantic, leading many to call it “The Death of Pokémon Go.”
Although Pokémon Go had its flaws, it still gained a tremendous following. Fans waited years for the app and weren’t ready to give up on its success. But due to lack of communication on Niantic’s side, people were left wondering when the bugs, crashes, and server issues would be fixed, and more importantly, when was the game going to receive a much need upgrade with new features and fresh content. By not communicating effectively with its audience, Niantic has not only seen its daily user base plummet from 27 million to just 700,000, but its daily revenue has gone from a staggering $16 million to $2 million.
Since coming under intense scrutiny, Niantic introduced the “Buddy Pokémon” which allows an individual Pokémon to accompany players during the game. The company even promised several other upgrades over the coming months like trading, player vs. player, and even new Pokémon.
While Niantic has made a valent effort to change their current heading, is it enough to raise the once popular Pokémon GO back to the top? Be sure to tell us what you think in the comment section below.
Article by Chris Piner