Pokémon Go: One Year Later

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While Pokémon Go was the biggest trend of 2016, it’s a struggle to find anyone still invested in the app a year on. Niantic have since introduced over 80 new creatures to the game, but it hasn’t been enough to recapture people’s attention. Although it’s not impossible that the game will have a massive resurgence someday, it seems that Pokémon Go has been left behind with the likes of Farmville and Angry Birds.

Many criticised Pokémon Go for its constant server issues when it first launched. The majority of these issues were ironed out within weeks, but the constant crashes would surely have turned off some early players. Niantic only made the problem worse by initially refusing to comment. Like many iPhone games, Go also became notorious for draining batteries. It was difficult to remain committed to Pokémon hunting when it constantly put your phone out of action. This wasn’t an issue that Niantic could simply fix with an update either, the AR element of the game putting massive strain on a phone’s battery. It’s not difficult to see why so many Pokémon Trainers became too frustrated to continue their journey.

It would have been easier to overlook these issues if the game hadn’t so quickly become repetitive. Although it launched with over 100 creatures to catch, it’s incredibly rare to find anything outside of a small pool of common Pokémon. While Pidgey and Zubat litter the map, the rarer Pokemon like Farfetch’d and Kangaskhan are practically impossible to find. Niantic did try to rectify this by adding 80 new Pokemon to the game in February 2017, but the majority of players had already moved on. Shocked by Go‘s popularity, it seems that Niantic couldn’t keep up with demand. Along with unfulfilled promises of multiplayer battles, they still haven’t implemented the long-awaited legendary Pokémon to the game. If Pokémon Go had received a steady stream of meaningful updates, it’s possible that it could have maintained some momentum.

However, it’s ridiculous to assume that Pokémon Go could have ever maintained that initial explosion of popularity. Although certain decisions by Niantic may have turned off some players, it couldn’t possibly have kept the attention of such a ridiculously large and diverse fan base. Everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to Soulja Boy was hunting for Pokémon. Hilary Clinton even made a cringe-worthy reference to the game. It was arguably the biggest trend of 2016. Like all trends though, Pokémon Go had a sell-by date. Distracted by Damn Daniel and Fidget Spinners, Pikachu was left in the dust. It’s now estimated that less than 10% of the original players open the app monthly, but this was an inevitability. These 10% are the game’s true fan base, the glamour of Pokémon Go long dead.

It’s interesting to note that there are still a dedicated group of aspiring Pokémon Masters playing the game. When Niantic announced their first official Pokemon Go Fest last month, it sold out of tickets within half an hour. It certainly isn’t the hip new thing anymore, but it continues to be appreciated by a sizeable fan base of Ash Ketchum wannabes. It’s still consistently on the iOS App Store Top Charts, albeit in 60th. It seems that this is the audience that Niantic expected to cater to when the app launched anyway. According to their CEO, it initially received “many, many more users than we had planned for”.

Pokémon Go is still available on iOS and Android devices. Check out the trailer below.

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Culture Editor, Pokémon Master, Time Lord and occasional History student. Just don't ask me anything about music.

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