One writer explains why Pokemon GO needs to add world events and new features to keep the attention of the casual audience, but why Niantic might not pull it off.
Casual and hardcore gamers have been swept up in Pokemon GO fever for the last week or so and, despite a very messy ongoing launch, the game has managed to become a worldwide phenomenon. Like most trends that are embraced by the zeitgeist immediately, the craze is bound to fall out of fashion at some point. In my opinion, how quickly the casual scene moves on to the next game is entirely dependant on how fast Niantic can make improvements and add new features to Pokemon GO.
The game’s hardcore audience is definitely getting frustrated with server issues and the terrible ‘Nearby Pokemon Bug’ (though there is a workaround for that one), but as long as the game stabilizes soon, that demographic isn’t going to bail any time soon. The grind to higher levels and the constant battle over gyms is plenty of motivation to keep the dedicated fans around. That might not be the case for the Candy Crush demographic, though…
The newness of the game and its awesome ability to bring crowds of people together is one of the major reasons the mainstream has embraced Pokemon GO. The game is still riding high, but the crowds spontaneously chasing Pokemon around city streets and college campus are already starting to slightly die down. Many fans have caught most of the common and uncommon Pokemon that are available in their area and are starting to lose the motivation to get out and go for a walk when they know all they are going to find is a flock of Pidgeys.
Some of the promises Niantic and Nintendo made during the Pokemon GO marketing campaign included world events and the inclusion of future generation Pokemon. Now, I’m not saying that it’s time to introduce gen-2 Pokemon two weeks after launch, but the developers do need to start thinking about how to keep players engaged with some kind of new, exciting content. Special events where players need to visit specific locations to earn a particular badge or a shiny Pokemon, maybe even at McDonald’s, seem like a surefire way to keep the current fanbase engaged and excited.
In addition to the world events, getting the trading feature online would also give players more motivation to get out into the world and meet with other players face to face. Peer to peer trading will give more experienced players the opportunity to help out newer trainers and get them on the right path to gym domination.
There is no doubt that Niantic is going to roll out all of these updates and changes (including trading, world events, and new Pokemon), but I’ll be shocked if it happens in any reasonable amount of time. The company is notoriously quiet about its plans and the community is already starting to resent the developers for it. Although fans in regions where the game is live are already level 20 going on 30 and in need of new motivation to explore the temporary end-game, Niantic is focused on getting the game live worldwide. The servers crash each time a new region gains access and the small team at Niantic has plenty of fires to put out before the game will see any new features or DLC.
I love Pokemon GO more than most people and I have no doubt that I will still be playing it a year from now. I would really love it if all of the casual gamers were still there will me a few months down the road, but my prediction is that something new and shiny will come along before Niantic can eliminate all of the current bugs and get the game moving forward. Time will tell though and I hope that I’m wrong.
Pokemon GO is currently available in select regions for Android and iOS devices.