A few days ago I did yet another one of my super-non-scientific polls about Pokemon Go. I got far fewer results than I had hoped but in the end got 38 total votes… and you can see the results here. Ultimately I was curious to see just how well Pokemon Go is doing among my twitter timeline a little over a month after the initial release. I knew my usage of the app had morphed a bit, and I was curious to see if everyone else had as well. The slight unfair comparison here however is that with the staggered launch, some folks like most of South America just literally got access to the application. As always I tried to create a bunch of categories that summed up what I thought of as the possible endpoints… but ultimately missed a few. The results look something like this.
- Actively “Catching Them All” Every Day – 11 Votes (29%)
- Only Playing When You Go Someplace New – 5 Votes (13%)
- Playing Rarely if you Remember – 10 Votes (26%)
- Still Installed but not Active – 6 Votes (16%)
- Uninstalled: May Check Later – 2 Votes (5%)
- Uninstalled: Got It Out of System – 1 Vote (3%)
- Never Tried It: Not For Me – 3 Votes (8%)
- Never Tried It: Still Interested – 0 Votes (0%)
Now I have no baseline here, because I should have taken a poll like this shortly after the launch, but it feels like that rarely playing number is probably higher than it would have been early on. For me personally I am in this awkward place of still playing, but not nearly with the same gusto that I once did. The attraction of Pokemon in the first place is the collection of new and interesting “mon”. So when I play the actual game I spend most of my time capturing critters either to keep in my own collection or to wonder trade them off just to see what I might get in return. The first few days of playing Pokemon Go felt like this, with me constantly finding something new and interesting around every corner. However at this point I have caught 85 of the 150 Pokemon available in Pokemon Go and of that list… Ditto, Mew, Mewtoo, Zapdos, Articuno, and Moltres are largely just myths at the moment. That means I have roughly 60% of the 144 that are reasonably available right now. Even then you have to discount the fact that Mr Mime, Khangaskhan and Farfetch’d are not available to me in the United States, which drops the total of available Pokemon down to 141. Then you factor in the fact that I am in a Grass Type dominated area and pretty much every Rock and Fire type Pokemon is rare as shit here… and can pretty much only be summoned with a Lure or Incense my total reasonable list of available Pokemon shrinks further.
I Choose You Venonat #257!
What this means in practice is that I end up going weeks without seeing anything new. Since finding new things is my core reward cycle in Pokemon, it really drags down my desire to keep playing. There also seems to be a huge gulf that you fall off into after level 20. I am just shy of dinging 21, but it has taken roughly a month of casual capturing to get me through the level. I wish the app kept general stats of how many of each Pokemon you have caught because I am absolutely certain that if you added up the number of Pidgey and Zubat caught… they would together be around one thousand… with Zubat making up the lions share of those. That is the core problem I am having is that I would say at least 60% of the Pokemon that I see on a daily basis… I cannot really muster the care to even try and catch. This means I still get vaguely excited when I see my hundredth Venonat or Doduo because they aren’t yet another Rattata. Even then I have caught enough of each to evolve four into Venomoth and three into Dodrio. The other big challenge that I am having is the extreme heat going on right now, which severely limits the amount of time I am willing to go out hunting for critters. The heat index the last few weeks has been hovering in the 110s, and that really is not conducive to going out and catching them all. So instead I am mostly limited to checking my phone quickly when I pull into a parking lot, or on my way walking into work.
There is also still the problem that a lot of the world is a complete and total wasteland with nothing interesting in it. We talked about this a bit on the podcast, but the game only seems to reward you for going to places literally everyone else is going. So that means once a hot spot is found, then that becomes the prime real estate that EVERYONE goes to… which only cause the problem to snowball. There is an open air mall here, and a handful of parks… that are sheer madness over lunch with people hanging out in the cars idling with the AC on near the pokestops that have lures running on them. The game favors high cellular activity so much, that most of the rest of my area is completely devoid of anything of interest apart from random basepop trashmon. The other main issue with this is that the game fails to capture the exploration aspect of the original source material. In Pokemon I knew that going out into new areas, meant that I would be getting a new mix of the available critters. So simply going over a zone, meant that while I might have 40% of the Pokemon be something I recognize, there would be 60% that were new and interesting. That simply does not relate to the real world version with Go, because no matter any amount of reasonable movement around my area provides me a significantly different assortment of “mon”. I can and have traveled an hour in roughly every direction from my home base… and still see exactly the same mix. This tells me that their “regions” are just too large and generic, and there are not that many valuable sub region feature sets identified. Oklahoma is a grassy wasteland to Niantic, so for the most part we get exactly the same assortment regardless if we are hanging out at a lake, or in the rocky canyon maze of Chandler Park.
High Pop Zones
I feel like at some level they decided that the games works well in San Francisco and New York… so it must work great everywhere else. The problem there is the bulk of this country has nothing in common with San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, etc. Most of the country is not a high population center, but instead a tapestry of smaller cities and wide swaths of countryside. In those places the experience is miserable. I have it far better than so many of my friends, but still it is maddening to roam around and see three things on the new “sightings” radar, and none of them are actually interesting. There are so many reports that Pokemon Go usage is declining… and I can absolutely see it. The game is extremely fun for the first few weeks, but once the new wears off… if you are not one of those players motivated to go out and capture gyms… then there really is a constantly shrinking pool of interesting game play. Right now as it stands they need to seriously adjust the reward systems in this game, and tweak it so that if you happen to go someplace that literally no one has ever gone before… you should be rewarded with something awesome at the end of that journey. The game itself is about getting out, exploring and more than anything moving. Right now I feel like it does an extremely poor job of incentivizing me to leave my house, because if in my walk I only encounter two Pokemon it feels like a waste of my time when I could simply be chilling out and playing some other game. They need to find a way to reward players for going to big social hubs, but also find ways to make it rewarding for players to get off the beaten path. As always I am curious to hear your own thoughts. I didn’t include any screenshots because I always hate trying to integrate in cellular format vertical screenshots into a blog that tends to favor landscape mode.