With the Pokemon Go craze well and truly burst, Screen Critics Joe asks if the lastest round of updates are enough to get people playing again.
Roll back a year and you couldn’t miss the Pokemon Go craze. One of the biggest things to hit 2016, the mobile outing was firestorm of publicity for a franchise that hadn’t really enjoyed that level of publicity for a long time. Yet as features failed to materialize, players interest waned. The latest update might be impressive on paper; but will it even come close to sparking wider interest again?
Pokemon Go, the mobile craze that took summer 2016 by storm, is getting a new update which significantly reworks Gyms and adds raids similar to what was seen in the first trailer back in late 2015. While the amount of regular users have noticeably dropped off, the update looks to revitalize interest in the title. As Pokemon Go creeps up on its one year anniversary, will the update be enough to move the marker or is the platform stuck in stagnation?
The first major part of the update has to do with how Gyms work. Instead of building up a Gym’s prestige to be able to station more Pokemon at it, Gyms will always have six open spots that the controlling team can fill in at any time. Pokemon on the Gym now have a set stamina meter, as shown by the hearts above them. Once the meter depletes, the Pokemon leaves the Gym, but anybody on the holding team can heal any Pokemon, which adds to team identity. They are also much more aesthetically pleasing.
The other major revamp in the update is the addition of raids. Now, certain Gyms will have a giant egg with a timer on them and when the timer runs out, an incredibly strong Pokemon will appear. The idea is that 20 or so trainers all attack the Pokemon, as any one trainer would theoretically be unable to take down the raid Pokemon on their own. Once the raid Pokemon is defeated, trainers will be given a number of ‘premier’ Pokeballs, determined by a number of different factors. There is also a number of exclusive items from the raid.
All of the updates change the fundamentals and adds depth to Pokemon Go, a game that was criticized at launch for lacking substantive gameplay. Now that so much time has passed though, do these additions matter? Will they bring back lapsed gamers and bring Pokemon Go back to the forefront of the mass’ mind?
No, of course it won’t. Pokemon Go’s meteoric launch was beyond astounding, yet unprecedented. The launch was, in short, an anomaly. It’s important to note that this update isn’t for them though. Instead, it is for the fans and dedicated players who have stuck to Go over the year. While this is the first major update to gameplay, Niantic has been keeping the game fresh in other ways, mainly through events that have tied to real world holidays. Pokemon Go has offered a level of variety enough to keep the diehards interested over the year that most people likely skipped out on. In no way, shape, or form is the update supposed to regain mainstream popularity. Sure, some lapsed players will come back, but the core of the update adds an enhanced sense of community for the players who have stuck with it and fans are surely elated.
In my backwoods college town, whose small size is only prognosticated due to the lack of in-session classes, there is still a robust Pokemon Go scene that has only been gaining traction as the weather begins to get nicer. For us, the update makes the late nights hunting Pokemon all the more worthwhile. Niantic knows their player base and adjusted their trajectory accordingly to build upon what captured the true fans from launch and made a more pleasant experience for them first.