The beloved Pocket Monster franchise is at it once again. The first time the adorable creatures made their mark on American culture was back in 1998 with the release of Pokémon Red and Blue, but it wasn’t until the airing of the anime series when the cultural phenomenon really took hold. Now, seventeen years later the Pokémon franchise has once again made its mark not only with long-time fans of the games and television series, but also with the majority of the world’s population. Does Pokémon Go, capture the essence of the beloved franchise or is it just capitalizing on the augmentation reality that our current generation lives in?
Nintendo’s latest venture with Pokémon Go has already turned out as a great success within the first few days of the mobile app’s release. The corporation’s stock has risen 9.3 percent since the game’s launch and the companies share price rose 24.52 percent, which translates to $193 per share and adds $7.5 billion to Nintendo’s market value. A single mobile app has done wonders for Nintendo bringing them ten times more success than the Wii U ever had in its ten-year lifetime. Seeing as Nintendo is an investor to both Niantic and The Pokémon Company they also receive 30-percent of the mobile apps revenue on top of it all and even though the app is free to download if a million players purchase the lowest tier of $0.99 once a day they would make 1 Million in profit on in-game micro transactions and that only for the lowest tier! Nevertheless, for the company to make an significant impact on Nintendo’s profits, the mobile app will have to come up with 140 million to 196 million each and every month.
Those bullet points are nothing for the first few weeks of the mobile app’s release as the game has produced millions in mere days and as stated before there has been a major surge in the company’s stock since the app’s launch, but how long will the fad continue until they start to see those numbers peak and eventually head downhill? Sure, right now the world over is out there determined to “catch them all” and defend their team’s gym, but as all fads and apps do, they eventually run out of steam. I mean first, Temple Run was the hot-slice of cheese then Angry Birds became digital crack, followed by Flappy Bird and now we have Pokémon Go to add to the mobile app phenomenon list until it is eventually displaced by something bigger and better that comes along. Not to say that this is an issue or makes the app any lesser than it is, but the thing to keep an eye out for is the free-app slowly and surely turning into a pay-to-win game.
As of the writing of this article, capturing Pokémon in Pokémon Go is no big deal. The only issue a player may stumble upon in capturing pocket monsters would be encountering a high-level Monster or running out of Pokéballs. In the case of the latter you would simply just have to travel around your location stopping at every PokeStop you see to load up on all your goodies. If you’ve noticed, however, the higher level you become the fewer goodies are dropped between each stop and the harder it becomes to keep up. As time goes on and Pokémon become stronger and stronger, a simple flick of the Pokéball won’t cut it anymore to hold that rare – (whatevers considered “rare” in your area) in its place. At this point you need to feed it berries to “weaken” it so it wont pop-out of the ball and flee from you, but berries are far and wide in-between (at least in my current experience with the game) and if I want to continue on with the fun I need to either dedicate time to stopping at a crap-ton of PokeStops or start to invest actual money into the game (berries are not sold through microtransaction but can be found at PokeStops once you reach level 8).
Currently, as long as you keep an eye on your item inventory and stop at every PokeStop along the way of your travels to load up on all the goodies you should have no problem capturing new Pokémon for you collection or for trading in for candy. However, as we progress through the game (throughout the coming months) and Niantic starts to add in Legendary Pokémon, along with more generations, we could possibly start to see the “breaking point” cropping up on the horizon. When Nintento starts to find that they are no longer turning a profit with Pokémon Go, they will simple make it harder to either capture Pokémon or find enough items at PokéStops in-order to keep up with the pace of the game, meaning players who believe they are too deep to turn back now will begin to sink dollar after dollar into the app in-order to continue the beloved enjoyment of venturing into the wild outdoors.
The biggest gripe I have with Pokémon Go is that it’s not even a Pokémon game. Yes, it looks like Pokémon on the surface, but below it is a completely different IP all together. The biggest complaint most die-hard fans have is that to capture a Pokémon you don’t even battle them, but that’s necessary; if the player had to stop every ten feet and spend five minutes turn-base battling every Pokémon they happen to come across that would translate to way too much time standing around on the curb battling yet another Pidgey just to gain 100-600 EXP. So I understand why they tossed that aspect out the window of the mobile game, but what I can not look past is the leveling up system that’s been implemented for one purpose and one purpose only.
Since battling Pokémon is far and few in-between in Pokémon Go, the only way to level-up your team is through either capturing low-level duplicates of Pokémon you currently own or feeding them candy and handing them stardust. Getting candy is possible without payment, but it’s a time killer if you’re taking the natural route of just playing the game, as you must first capture loads upon loads of the same Pokémon you are looking to level-up just to trade them in for a single candy in return. An easier way to get candy is to buy it with PokéCoins (the games currency), but the only ways to obtain them is by occupying a gym for 24 hours. This wouldn’t be so bad if die-hard fans hadn’t already spent hundreds of dollars to level up their Pokémon to unbelievable levels to essentially lock them down for all eternity unless you give in and purchase loads of currency to CP dump on your strongest Pokémon just to be able to stand toe-to-toe with the gym leader.
Looking at the game critically, this isn’t the ultimate Pokémon experience we have all been waiting for. Instead it acts as the next best thing as the whole essence of the franchise is to capture your favorite Pokémon and train them to be the very best through battles. As of right now, the only battling you will be doing is through gyms and it’s a liner and passive experience at best, as all you do is swipe left and right while furiously tapping on the screen until either you or your appointed is defeated. There’s no critical thinking involved, there’s no consideration on what type of Pokémon you bring into battle with you; the only thing that matters is your CP level and how fast you can slam your finger onto your screen without knocking it out of the palm of your hand. Nevertheless, looking at the game for what it is (and as a Pokémon fanatic) which is an augmented reality experience, you really can’t ask for much better. Peering through the lens of your camera shrieking at the sight of a Pikachu you’ve long hunted for with friends and strangers by your side is an indescribable experience like no other.
In the end, the game is essentially about going outside, getting fresh air and exercise while connecting with friends and strangers alike. The best part of Pokémon Go is how it is bringing people together. Already there have been numerous reports of people either making friends while out on the hunt for Pokémon or even finding dates. In my experience just heading around town every corner was filled with perspective Pokémon Trainers who’s first question always seemed to be “Who’s team are you on?” Which leaded to either a roaring “Whooo Wooo” or some friendly and often witty banters and smack talk. Pokémon Go has accomplished what no other game has been able to accomplish before it, which is getting people to converse with one another again in real-life. I do hope that the app has a long and healthy lifespan before Nintendo is forced to encode “walls” into the game which will hinder player progression unless they fork over some cash in-order for the company to continue to turn a profit.