Millions of people love Pokemon Go, and it’s giving many of them an excuse to go outside much more that they would otherwise. By most accounts it’s not only fun, but something of a revolution in how people play mobile games. But will it really change the world as we know it? Unlikely.
It’s only been out in the US for about a week now, and much of the current level of excitement now is because everyone is still in the “honeymoon” phase. But there are several reasons why that’s not likely to last very long. Objectively, the game play is extremely shallow, compared to past Pokemon games. The game is also riddled with bugs, server issues, and design problems, too.
As players level up the experience curve increases exponentially, eventually introducing pay-to-win mechanics that seem to plague most mobile games these days. Once level 12 is reached nearly every newly found pokemon has a high combat power (CP), and is much more likely to run away. Also, the chances of throwing curve balls increases, meaning it takes quite a lot of pokeballs just to catch low level pokemon, like Pidgeys and Weedles.
As players continue to level up they gain access to better items. This seems advantageous at first, but those new items take over the slots of previously earned items. For example, it’s not uncommon for a player with 100+ normal pokeballs to have them all completely replaces with just a small number of advanced pokeballs. This results in players using more pokeballs per capture, but receiving fewer when then stock up. The whole point of this type of game design is to get people to buy more item in the shop.
Another poorly designed aspect of the game are the gyms, which are for power users only. There’s always going to be someone of a higher level near by that will prevent most people from holding a gym long enough to get any bonuses. In many towns there’s likely a group of players on one team that pretty much dominate every gym. They appear to not have any other objective in life other than winning in Pokemon Go, and have probably played the game every waking moment since it came out. Casual players who only play for a few minutes every now and then will never be able to reap the benefits of the gym system.
There are likely many people enjoying the game for what it is. It gives them a reason to go outside and talk to strangers about a common interest, and that alone is a lot of fun. But once the casual players start to realize how little there is to do in the game, and how they will never succeed in holding a gym, the numbers will start to drop off significantly.
Do people really think a game where the most common objectives are to transfer Pidgeys and spin a coin with a picture on it is enough content to sustain a sizable player base for years? Chances are this game will only enjoy its popularity for a month before the hype wears off and most people get bored with it.