Two Years of Pokemon Go: A Reflection

Yes, I've been playing Pokemon Go for two years. Yes, it's still fun. #TeamNoDragonite.

While in line at a Starbucks in Las Vegas last month, I decided to pull out my phone and play some Pokemon Go. Why not, after all. What else was I going to do in line?

"That looks like a good idea," the elderly woman in line behind me says.

I turn around in disbelief, watching her fingers tap her phone with my own eyes so I can see her do exactly what I think she's gonna do.

She opens up Pokemon Go too.

The Game Has Come a Long Way in Two Years

That woman in line? Her diabetes is in check thanks to Pokemon Go. Just one of the many ways this game has made a positive impact.

It's been a little over two years since Pokemon Go jumped out of the tall grass to smartphones around the world. Those were the good ol' days, when going outside and walking around was the only way to play and there were less than 150 Pokemon to worry about. Third-party trackers were still a thing too.

Now, in July 2018, there's so much more to Pokemon Go than a bunch of new Pokemon to catch. Players can trade with other players, gyms are way more fun and accessible to all levels, and the daily quests for Professor Willow give players something to do other than hunt for rare Pokemon they don't have yet. But, completionists can finally catch all of the original, Generation 1 Pokemon.

What's Next for Pokemon Go?

Earlier this week, Niantic announced a new type of Pokemon, Lucky Pokemon, which aren't available in the game yet. Lucky Pokemon, once in-game, will only be obtainable through trade. If a Pokemon becomes "lucky," they'll use less Stardust when they power up. The longer a player has a Pokemon, the more likely it will become "lucky" when its traded.

Besides the recent news, one update I am personally hoping for is battles. I lamented in February 2017 about the lack of battles, whether against NPCs, the wild Pokemon and/or against other players. Battles are one of the cornerstone mechanics of Pokemon games. It baffles me then that players couldn't even battle those stupid Pidgeys in Pokemon Go. It's July 2018 and there are still no battles. What are players supposed to do with Eevee's exclusive move after the August Community Day if they can't use it on a wild Pidgey?

Anyway, when Pokemon Go started two years ago, it was barely a minimum-viable product. The loading times sucked. Karping was real. Players were falling off of piers and wandering into Canada and doing other strange shenanigans. The teams didn't matter and they still kind of don't (Go Mystic!).

Nonetheless, Pokemon Go is a cultural phenomenon the same way Pokemon itself has been a cultural phenomenon for the past 20 years. Perhaps it doesn't have the hype as it did two summers ago, but today there's plenty of fun to be had without leaving your house. You know, the way video games intended.

Games Pokemon Go Genres CasualFree to Play Platforms
Published Jul. 25th 2018

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