Pokemon Go broke many records after it was first released, becoming the most downloaded app for both the App Store and Google Play, having the highest peak active usage by any mobile app, and even setting the high on generated revenue by any mobile app. It’s even being credited for the sales spike that several core Pokemon games experienced right after it was released.
Despite the record breaking performance, the game’s usage rate has declined drastically since reaching it’s peak. And without going through the actual numbers, I can say that I felt the decline in the real world – several of my friends have stopped playing it for various reasons. But I haven’t stopped, and recent conversations with a friend who has made me think about why I’m still playing Pokemon Go.
What got me hooked on Pokemon Go at first was the collecting aspect of the game. I loved seeing different kinds of Pokemon, especially when it’s a “new” (previously unencountered) one that I can add to my in-game Pokedex. And it wasn’t all about encountering or catching Pokemon out in the real world – Pokemon Go also carried over the evolution mechanic of the core Pokemon games, allowing me to evolve my existing Pokemon into new ones (which also counted towards my Pokedex).
I’ll acknowledge the fact that there are only a few Pokemon kinds that are currently available in the game (not all of the 151 Pokemon of the Gen 1 games) and that eventually, one is bound to “catch ’em all”. But I haven’t – as of this writing, I’ve only caught 109 kinds of Pokemon and I’ve only seen 131 – so there’s still plenty for me to catch, which keeps me going.
There are those who stopped because they’ve already caught most of what’s available in their region and I have to admit that I’ve barely had any new entries to my Pokedex in recent weeks, but I’ve continued with the game and I keep trying to catch most of the Pokemon that I encounter because of another reason – Pokemon Go’s battling mechanic. These Pokemon aren’t just for collections, but you can also use them to battle at Pokemon Gyms and while the actual battling mechanics are very simple and not very interesting, what keeps me going is how the game manages battles.
Each Pokemon has it’s own set of statistics – the better a Pokemon’s statistics are, the better it does in battle. So I’m not just looking at filling out my collection, but I’m also assembling a collection of battle-worthy Pokemon as well. And the game has a Power Up mechanic wherein you can “power up” Pokemon by using stardust and candies – in-game resources that are obtained primarily by catching Pokemon. So every Pokemon that I catch goes towards improving my battle team.
Aside from finding each and every catch satisfying, Pokemon Go is one of few games/apps that (and let me borrow a term that I got from Radio Free Nintendo, one of my favorite podcasts) “gamifies” something that I do every day, which is to travel. By “gamify”, I mean that Pokemon Go provides in-game rewards/achievements whenever I travel. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the speed restrictions that have recently been implemented. But even with that factored in, Pokemon Go still rewards me for every kilometer that I’ve moved (below the speed restriction) by giving me candies (used for powering up and evolving) through it’s Buddy System and by letting me hatch eggs/get new Pokemon.
Every weekday, I travel between home and work and just through that, I’m able to hatch eggs and get candies for evolving my current Pokemon. Just from my everyday travels, I’ve managed to get myself a Gyarados (my biggest hitter) and saved up enough candies to evolve my Weepingbell into it’s next state. I’ve hatched a Snorlax and a Magmar from 10 KM eggs just by doing what I regularly do. I earn something in the game even from quick trips to groceries or when I go out on dates with my girlfriend!
Pokemon Go itself is actually quite simple, and I think that’s what keeps me playing. I just pull the app up and move, and catch whatever pops up. It’s stress-free and very easy to get into. And what I absolutely like about the game is how it can be played casually. I’m not a hardcore Pokemon Go player as you can see by my Pokedex – I don’t go out of my way to catch Pokemon. I’m only at Level 25. And yet, I don’t have trouble winning in Gym battles and taking them over. It’s okay for me to not play Pokemon Go for days – I won’t feel left behind those that invest more time into the game and thus, it doesn’t become an obligation.
Finally, it looks like Niantic has finally learned how to keep an audience engaged. Pokemon Go was getting quite stale, but Niantic has been rolling out updates more frequently and have started running special limited time events since October. There was that Halloween event where they made certain Pokemon more available for a week and gave out double the amount of candies. Right after that was a double experience and double candy week, and a double experience/double stardust event around two weeks ago. They’ve rolled out an improvement on the game’s tracking feature in certain regions recently, and it’s highly rumored that they’ll make the Gen 2 Pokemon available on December 12. The game is improving at a much faster pace now.
And those are all the reasons why I still play Pokemon Go. I still find it highly enjoyable and I’m eagerly looking forward to what else Niantic has in store for us. I still find its rewards appealing and I highly appreciate how easy it is to get into.
Now that it’s been months since release, what do you think about Pokemon Go? Are you still playing the game or are you among the many who have already stopped? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment or two below!