More than one year later, Pokemon GO carries a somewhat tumultuous legacy behind it as the app continues forward with a smaller but still active player base. It has been downloaded over 500 million times worldwide to date, got people exploring their local communities and beyond, and connected people together even if you had never played Pokemon before. It’s sudden success also caused problems upon release. In just ten days, more than 110,000 Pokemon GO-related road accidents occurred in the United States. Now that the initial fervor over the app has come and gone, what has Niantic accomplished in a year’s time? And what, if anything, have they not yet delivered on?
Legendary Pokemon: Yes
After the unfortunate failure of the first Pokemon GO Fest in Chicago last month, there was one upside: legendary Pokemon are now available through Raid Battles! You can currently catch Articuno, Moltres, and Lugia, with Zapdos probably not far behind (though there hasn’t been any word about Ho-oh yet, sadly). Many players have reported these raids can take anywhere from seven to ten people to defeat on average, meaning anyone in rural areas with few active players will definitely struggle. The introduction of these Pokemon does feel a bit late, but at least those gaps in our Pokedex may one day be filled.
Battling and Trading: No
Though rumored to be released several times during Pokemon GO’s existence, players have yet to see anything materialize in the game regarding battling or trading. I haven’t personally been bothered by the lack of this addition. It does, however, make the app feel a bit more empty as a Pokemon game, but this probably comes down to the pre-conceived expectations fans have about what a Pokemon property should be. I can see both sides of the argument; while a Pokemon game should have battling and trading, Pokemon GO prioritizes different tasks for players. Some prefer collecting to fill their Pokedex while others guard and flip gyms with high-powered Pokemon. At this point in time, would adding these features draw back enough players to make it worthwhile?
Updated Gyms: Yes
The semi-recent update to gyms is my favorite new feature in Pokemon GO right now. Restricting duplicate Pokemon and making it so you don’t have to battle your own team’s gym to enter it were desperately needed to add variety. The additional change of earning ten coins per minute – for a total of 50 coins across all gyms each day – is a big step up, though still problematic. I’ve had gyms that hold for two weeks only to find that I had two Pokemon kicked out on the same day, meaning I only get rewards for one of them. There are still improvements to be made, but these changes are a great step forward for Niantic.
Pokemon GO is not perfect. It may not ever be the experience some fans want it to be, either. I’m still happily playing the app more than a year later in spite of that. It might only be a passive part of my day, yet there are still times where I might walk an extra loop around campus to get the most out of my time. At the end of the day, it promised what people worldwide who grew up with Pokemon games were hoping for: the chance to go out into the wild and catch Pokemon of your own. If you’re looking to collect every Pokemon available in the app, it undoubtedly takes patience. I have also spent more time on Pokemon GO than any other Android app I’ve played, so they have to be doing something right. The fanfare might over but there’s still plenty left to accomplish, even for the most dedicated players.