Pokemon Go: Fad or Revolution?

What’s that in the sky? A bird? A plane? No! Its the Pokemon Inquisition!

gooooooooooooooo

You can smell it in the air, It’s 1996 all over again and people are out in droves reliving their childhoods on the new phone app, Pokemon Go. Stories about this game are everywhere and I have no doubt that you as a reader have heard about the latest Pokemon game–maybe even the point of being sick of all the coverage! That’s why today I want to talk about Pokemon Go in the big picture of things, where this game will be in a few years, and the likely course of its eventual phasing out or rising to fame. In this way, when you see all these articles about how an entire park of people ran to catch a Charizard or all the supposed stories of shootings taking place over the game you’ll be able to take it all with a grain of salt and move on to more important things in your life. (Disclaimer: I am aware that some of the stories on the internet are true involving violence and pokemon Go, whether it be negligence behind the wheel or people being mugged when going to certain PokeStops which I absolutely do not condone, however I also know that these types of fads tend to bring in a lot of drama for the sake of adding drama so you have to only believe what you research first. Not grazing through your facebook feed mindlessly.)

So, Pokemon Go was developed by Niantic Inc. The same guys who made Ingress which, somehow no one seems to know about despite the striking similarities to Pokemon Go. With Ingress you were on one of two teams and it was each team’s objective to coordinate and work together to capture portals that were set up at various real-world places. The theme was more centered around hacking and spy based work as every player in Ingress was an agent rather than a trainer (for more info see Watchdogs_2). To get these portals you had to hack in and spend energy to weaken down the portal, or, if it was your portal you could place additional security measures to keep it in your control for a longer period of time. Walking around your town allowed you to pick up more energy to assist in your hacking endeavors and having more portals under your control created grids in your town of control, and the bigger the grid the more resources you had at your disposal. Sound familiar? The portals are Pokestops, energy is simply replaced with your creature and how strong it is and your end goal is to get enough gyms to pull in more coins to get more of everything.

So while Pokemon Go is not a copy paste of Ingress, we can deduce that because of its similar features and game-play mechanics that Pokemon Go will play very similarly to this older game. Really the only thing that divides the two at a conceptual level are…the Pokemon themselves. With Ingress you had to be a higher level player to get most of the bigger portals sure, but, whether you are at level 1 or max level you could contribute to the hacking of a portal, whereas in Pokemon Go, you could very easily get yourself to max level and have garbage Pokemon. Now I know some of you are thinking, “but the higher level trainer I am, the higher level Pokemon I can catch so how could any of them be garbage?” Its this question alone that will decide Pokemon’s Go fate in the coming years.

The energy needed to hack a portal in Ingress was always the same kind of energy, but, the required Pokemon needed to beat a gym has an infinite number of possibilities, especially when you count the strengths and weaknesses Pokemon share with each other in battle. Let me provide and example using Pokemon Go’s current system: Walking outside of your house you see an unclaimed gym and immediately set one of your strongest Pokemon in the gym, let’s say its a Raichu with a CP of 450. You go to work and come back to find that your gym has been taken over by that asshole next door and to add insult to injury, he put his Raichu in the gym and it has a CP of 689. Nothing in your current roster can beat this Raichu so you decide that you’ll need to not only train but get some friends to help you take the gym back. So you go and get your friends and you come back and find that the gym is now a level two gym and there are two Pokemon inside, the Raichu from before and now some new players CP 1021 Arcanine. How is that even possible? You’ve never even seen a Growlithe in your area! You and your friends try but since you had not planned for an Arcanine at that level you’re not able to take the gym back. Now try to imagine that a month from this point on your daily walk routine every gym you pass has CP 1000 pokemon in it. Think that’s hard to believe? It may be already happening…

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Adding in Pokemon that you can level up makes Pokemon Go a much faster game. This is the dividing force between Ingress and Pokemon Go. Where Ingress you could chip away at a portal and then finally get inside, with Pokemon and their constantly raising CP levels, its very possible that you could never keep up unless you spend all your days playing Pokemon Go.  And it’s not like I look down or think that these types of players are bad, but, the majority of the people playing this game will not have the time and fall behind, and when they do, it will feel impossible to claim gyms without bringing your whole crew and their mothers. This phenomena happened to me personally when I got into Ingress because I came at a very later point of Ingress’s life cycle. The portals were all blocked up with 8 resonators and the progress seemed to slow to a complete stand still.

Now some would argue that the example I’ve described above is exactly the kind of thing these games need to thrive, which I would agree with. In these conflicts people should rush to this gym or that and take pride in their efforts, that is the fun of the game. Some would also note that maybe they are not interested in the gym parts of the game at all, maybe they just like the craze of catching Pokemon in the real world, which is also totally fine. What I am trying to say though is that Pokemon Go is not a simulation of being a real trainer but rather a fun Pokemon themed experience to play with friends. I saw a really good quote the other day on twitter that really sums this up:

POKÉMON GO ISN’T ABOUT CATCHING ‘EM ALL — IT’S ABOUT CATCHING THEM TOGETHER

It will be up to the Pokemon Go players as a community to get good or fall apart. And who knows? Pokemon is really popular–its always has been. Maybe players will remain determined and this game will be something that just becomes a part of daily life, but if I were a betting man, I would bet that come a couple months from now, the hype is going to die down and people are going to play other things. Only turning it back on when it has some crazy update or boss event like we saw in the trailer.

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