Not many people had heard of Niantic prior to July of 2016. They had a decently popular game, but it was nothing compared to the success of Pokemon Go. There’s no doubt they had no clue it would become the overnight sensation it had become. Apparently Niantic, or even Nintendo, didn’t anticipate how many people loved the idea of traveling around town to find and capture tiny monsters. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all you can do, and their lack of features may be coming back to bite them, as a recent announcement shows their daily users have dropped by the millions. Over 15 million, almost 1/3rd of Pokemon Go’s active daily users, have decided to quit playing. But why? What can Niantic do to gain them back? Is it too late? I’ll explore 5 things they should do immediately to become a long-lasting game.
Make Changes NOW
Niantic has some amazing features they’ve promised, but they don’t sound to be coming out very soon. People are dropping like flies because they’re running out of content. There are essentially 2 things to do in Pokemon Go: capture Pokemon, upgrade and battle them (okay, maybe that’s 3 things, but evolving is more or less part of capturing). That’s it. There aren’t any objectives, ways to communicate with others, trading or various other things we have in normal Pokemon games. That’s bad, because Pokemon Go is meant to be more of an ongoing game.
They have promised trading, as well as various other activities like fighting friends, but this should have been included in the original release. These are obvious additions and would have easily been included, had it been a typical game with expectations. They are relying too heavily on the different type of play to make up for it. Don’t get me wrong, finding Pokemon in the world, as you get up and walk around is an incredible idea, and Pokemon is an incredible franchise to use it on. The issue is that it’s not going to hold players for long. It needs real depth, and it needs it fast. Hire more developers or whatever it takes, but do it immediately.
Add More Social Elements
For a game that gets you off the couch and into the real world, there aren’t many ways to talk to other players. The only way to know you’re looking at a fellow Pokemon Go player is to weirdly try and look over their shoulder and h
ope it’s not a picture of them naked. Why can’t we see other players on the map? If there’s concern with privacy, you could add a friends only button or privacy mode that hides your character. This gives those wanting to play alone that option, and it brings up another glaring issue: there isn’t a friend’s list! Why? This is in so many games, but one of the most interactive game out there doesn’t have it? Are you joking? You could get updates, like how your buddy just got the Zapdos you’ve both been looking for (lucky bastard). Maybe some chat function? Come on! There’s an app already that tries to fix this problem, but it should not have been one to begin with. These are simply things that should already be in the game!
So I’ve spent a thousand hours getting all these Pokemon, but I can’t really do anything with them. Sure, I can battle that overly powerful gym leader Pokemon to inevitably fail, but I can’t just have fun and fight using my weaker ones. Battling friends is supposedly coming, but I want to have to battle them BEFORE capturing them like the regular games. Now before some people get angry, I do
understand it can be tricky with people capturing on the go before they have to be somewhere, along with various other scenarios, but isn’t that one of the coolest aspects of Pokemon? Having to fight them down right to that level before capture. Risking your own Pokemon to fight that really powerful one. It’s a really rewarding experience!
Fix the AR System!
Okay, so I may catch a little flack from some of the fans, but can we at least discuss in short length how horrible the biggest feature in the game is? It’s awful augmented reality. It doesn’t feel like there’s a Pokemon there with you. It’s just a sprite randomly popping up on your screen wherever you had your camera pointing when pressing it. Are there seriously no ground detecting algorithms or something? Either every Pokemon is a flying type or there’s something to be fixed. To top it off, I like the animation style, but if you’re going for augmenting reality, why not make them look realistic? The ultra cartoony sprites might not be the way to go.
Add More Items
Really it just needs more of everything, but one thing that really feels lackluster are the items in the game. Over the years, there have been literally hundreds of items in the Pokemon universe. Even to the Pokeballs, which are the primary items used in the games. Where’s the Dusk Ball? What about the Friend Ball? Maybe the Heal Ball? Nope. The most annoying part of it all is that these are all already made. You don’t have to be creative in any real way. Just a simple copy and paste is all I’m asking here.
Is Pokemon Go going to be just another fad (see what I did there? Lame? Okay then.) that came and went faster than anyone imagined, or will people still be talking about it in 5 years? It’s something none of us know, but it is definitely in Niantic’s court at this point. They have the well known name, but until the game has real staying power, people will continue leaving in droves.