The Rise and Fall of Pokémon GO
Like most people, with the announcement of Pokémon GO, I was ecstatic. The thought of taking the game mechanics of the original Pokémon games and being able to actually catch your own Pokémon sounded like a dream come true. And when Pokémon GO was finally released, I was hooked. The phenomenon took the nation by storm. Everywhere, people were gathering to find the most exotic Pokémon that they could, and very few people were outside without staring at their phones waiting for a Pokémon to appear. Even my mom, someone I would consider out of touch with iPhone trends, was constantly saying, ‘’Look! More people catching Pokémon!’’ It was amazing. Now everyone shared the love of Pokémon that I did. Everyone was happy—until we were confronted with the app’s problems. Niantic, the developer of Pokémon GO, was completely silent. In the first few days of the game, there were server outages and minor glitches, which are understandable. But these glitches didn’t stop or go away. The servers were unstable for weeks, and Niantic remained silent.
So is it that the only reason that Pokémon GO’s popularity has declined so rapidly is because of these glitches? Surely enough people love Pokémon that the game would still be wildly popular. I mean, even I fell to the craze and booted up Pokémon Fire Red out of nostalgia. What exactly caused the downfall? This question can be answered in one word: fulfillment—or should I say, the lack thereof. The original Pokémon games were all about training your Pokémon. As a trainer, you wanted to become the best. You could capture some in the wild, or win them in a battle, and pit them against each other in fights to increase their strength. You would begin to learn the specific move sets that your Pokémon were best at, and use them to your advantage. With Pokémon GO, there was almost none of that. Sure, there were small gym battles, but all you did was tap, there was no sense of victory in choosing what moves your Pokémon would use. Niantic promised this unprecedented game where you could become a Pokémon trainer, but only delivered on half of their promise. They gave you the catching part, but left out the second key aspect of the Pokémon games that Pokémon fans like myself love.
Did I enjoy Pokémon GO? Absolutely. Would I be tempted to jump back in if Niantic started communicating with players and actually added leveling up and trading? Perhaps. I just find it a shame that this company, which purchased one of the well-known and beloved franchises on a global scale, would create a “revolutionary game experience” with little-to-no longevity. Yes, I realize plenty of people still play Pokémon GO. I see quite a few here around campus. But instead of producing half of a game and rushing it to the consumer, perhaps Niantic should have waited a little longer to release Pokémon GO and made sure that they when did they release it to the public, that it was a finished product. Maybe Niantic can still recover from this, but I honestly doubt it; when all has been said and done, the hype surrounding Pokémon GO’s release has declined too far, and this to me is quite honestly a shame.