Why Pokémon GO Is Still Popular – A Gamer’s Prospective

Most people by now know about the animated series Pokémon, which has spanned MANY seasons, years, and platforms. From games, TV series, movies, cards, toys, stuffed animals – you can find Pokémon pretty much anywhere. When Pokémon GO first came out in July 2016, it was a huge success with multiple millions of ‘trainers’ battling, catching, hatching, and walking their favourite fictional animal. I was one of these people – I grew up watching Pokémon and collecting the cards (although I regrettably had to sell them when moving at a garage sale).

Here are 8 reasons why Pokémon GO is still strong today:

1. Gotta Catch ’em All!

Have you ever had that amazing feeling when you finally accomplish a task that took you a painstaking amount of time? Maybe it is making every single recipe from a cookbook, or finishing that coin collection, or finishing a game with 100% completion? Pokémon GO has the same addicting drive, born from the renowned “gotta catch ’em all” catchphrase the original TV series incorporated. What’s more is the fact that, once you completed catching the first 151 Pokémon from the first generation of the series which, by the way, was near impossible as some Pokémon were region specific (a little farfetch’d, don’t ya think?), the second generation was released to keep those trainers out searching for their next walking buddy. These new releases kept happening to keep the attention of trainers around the world, as we are currently on the 4th gen and there is no sign of stopping from Niantic, the game developer.

2. Variable Encounter Rates

This game strives towards diversification in it’s catch rates. There are these areas called “Pokémon nests” which are areas that a certain Pokémon spawns at high frequencies. There are also ‘effects’, which are ultimately events that last a certain amount of time (from 3 hours to 3 weeks) that give trainers incentive to get out of the house at these times and go catch as many of these Pokémon as possible. Pokémon GO also diversifies the encounter rates of Pokémon by in-game weather – yes, it is that in-depth. These variations keep the game from going stale and keeps the user continuously looking out for new “effects.”

3. User Interaction

Pokémon GO is not just some idle game you can play while waiting for a bus or sitting in the lunchroom at work: this game requires you to go outside and MOVE. It is in a unique genre in that the main concept is to walk around in real life in order for your in-game trainer to do the same, as this app uses your device’s GPS to track where you are and how much you have moved. This interactive concept is not one used a lot in the past, so the novelty has users coming back to it again and again.

4. Getting Fresh Air

With the above reason, this game forces you outdoors. This is an interesting concept for gamers, as we are usually stuck in our gaming caves where you can’t tell if it’s 4am or 4pm. This gives a hardcore gamer an excuse to go outside and enjoy that vitamin D, as they can still be plugged into the world of gaming while doing so. This game can also make users feel better about their lifestyle choices, as the game tracks the distance you walk throughout the day and rewards you for walking long distances with fun egg hatching and bonus items.

5. Fun For the Whole Family

It is not surprise that adults play this game as well – some of them grew up in the Pokémon scene, and having it come to life in a pseudo-virtual world takes them back to their Pokémon trainer childhood dreams. While playing Pokémon GO, I have come across many families playing the game together, from middle aged adults to their children, and everywhere in between. In the parents’ eyes, if their child is going to spend hours glued to a screen, they might as well get some fresh air while doing so. Playing can also be turned into a fun family outing, especially coupled with raid battling/events suggested earlier. Talk about team bonding!

6. Gender Equal Gaming

In the gaming scene nowadays, you don’t come across nearly as many females gaming as you do males. This could be because females aren’t interested in gaming, or maybe because females feel it is hard to make a name for themselves in a male-dominated genre. Whatever the case,
Pokémon GO has vastly changed this perspective. When walking about my neighborhood and close parks/arenas, it is easy to tell who is trying to catch the next big Pokémon, spinning pokéstops, or battling for a position in a pokégym. Looking around, a near equal split of males and females are playing Pokémon GO, which incredible to see for the gaming community.

7. Continuous Developer Updates

This isn’t one of those games that comes out on a date and that’s it – there have been constant updates, patches, and additions incorporated with Pokémon GO. I won’t lie, Pokémon GO had some bugs/issues when it was first released, but those have long been fixed, on top of additional content being added. Pokémon GO has a lot of attributes now that it did not have when released – trainer vs. trainer battling, raid boss battles, new generations of Pokemon, new items, gifting & friendship perks, and more. These all were not released at once, which again keeps users coming back for more each time these releases go live. They also stop the game from being too predictable and stagnant, as updates bring a slightly different experience for the end user every time.

8. Global Community

Pokémon GO does indeed “GO” farther than your neighborhood, city, or even country. Trainers all around the world are catching, hatching, walking, battling, and trading these virtual animated monsters. There is such a big fanbase for Pokémon GO that multiple reddit pages, discord channels, and websites are dedicated to Pokémon GO and everything to do with it. What’s more is the multitude of global events periodically happening – the most recent of these was a “Safari Zone” in Brazil! These events help ‘hype’ the game and make users want to come back again and again to catch ’em all!

 

Overall, Pokémon GO has carved out a new method of gaming for our world, one that brings communities, friend, and family together, all while increasing our active lifestyles! There have been games before Pokémon GO to try to incorporate an active lifestyle and the outdoors, (Ingress, for example, which was also made by Niantic and what Pokémon GO maps are built around) but none have been more successful than Pokémon GO; with over $3 billion in revenue to date. Many other games have tried to follow in Pokémon GO’s wake and bring out their own games, such as Jurrasic World Alive and Temple Treasure Hunt Game, but none are nearly as successful. All-in-all, the aforementioned reasons are why gamers such as myself and countless others are still trying to catch ’em all!

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