Maybe not today, hell, it probably won't die tomorrow but rest assured Pokemon Go is headed to the grave. Nurse Jenny is going to wash her hands of this shit and never look back again, probably get a job as a receptionist, who knows? If the game won't bow out gracefully then it'll be up to Pokemon fans everywhere to take Ol' Yeller out back to do the miserable deed ourselves.
Sure, we'll cry about it, lamenting what could have been but then we'll remember the rabies fueled grind of hundreds of thousands of Pidgeys and know in our hearts that we did the right thing.
"Please, I have a family."
But why is Pokemon Go dying? Well, as one fan to another I can say for certain what has killed my interest. I'm also a semi competent writer, so now I can write up a little list about the things Niantic could do to keep Pokemon Go alive. Here are the top 4 things that would make Pokemon Go playable again!
4) A Better Accessory
The purpose of the Pokemon Go Plus peripheral is to allow a trainer to walk around without being completely tethered to their phone and sure this does an okay job, but how okay?
Within an hour of using the Pokemon Go Plus accessory I realized we wouldn't exactly be the best of friends. I came back to find that I hadn't been collecting items for at least 30 minutes.
I was filled to the brim with Rattatas and Pidgeys (hey and one Bulbasaur, pretty sweet).
But most damning of all I came back to find my phone had discharged by 40%. 40 freaking percent! I have an S6 that generally speaking lasts the entire day of heavy Twitter use, text messages & music streaming and this about killed it within an hour. That's not exactly healthy for your battery either.
Did you guy's know that Pokemon Go uses quite a lot of battery? Well as it turns out adding the need for constant bluetooth pairing has given Pokemon Go quite the hunger for sweet battery candy, and it thinks your phone is the pinata. I smell a battery replacing fiesta in your future!
Pokemon Go Plus didn't exactly add to my experience with the game, in fact I found strapping it on my wrist very invasive. Have I grown so weak from all my poke-walks that I no longer can strap a piece of plastic on? Am I extraordinarily fat, so fat in fact that I can't get the strap around my chub-wrists? Nope, the answer is much dumber.
Did you know you have to use a screw driver (not included) to fasten the Pokemon Go Plus to your wrist? The thing built/advertised as a wearable watch has no fasteners aside from a screw...what? How? Well the Pokemon Go Plus comes in two forms; clip form & wristband form, if you put it in clip form you need a screwdriver to put the wristband back on, YAY, fun!
I consider my vernacular top-notch but I can't find the words to convey how stupid this is as a concept. Did Niantic want kids to invade hardware stores so they could get to know the newest up and coming Pokemon? Flatheadmon?
"Coming soon, Flatheadmon's Alolan Form!" - Pokemon Team
Get a better peripheral that won't soil my honor and we could maybe be in business, but even with that fixed we'd still have problems like...
3) Pokemon Go Is An Augmented Reality Game That Destroys All The Fun Parts Of Augmented Reality.
Pokemon Go is a wonderfully novel concept that I love. You like Pokemon? You wish Pokemon were real? Well it's time to make those dreams come true fam, go out into the world and enjoy them Pokemon.
Finally, I could choose my team, then travel the world fighting other trainers and growing close to my Pokemon. It would be like playing Pokemon Yellow, except this time every Pokemon could follow behind you. How cool would that be? If you kept your camera on during AR mode you could see your team all on camera, just hanging out in your house or at the gym with you. The game would have full scale AR battles, man, right there on the street just like the trailer says it would.
"Man this is sick!" - Every person watching this trailer.
What it actually turned out to be was less of the trailer and more an episode of Hoarders, you know why? Because getting attached to a single Pokemon is worthless in a game where the CP of your Pokemon scales based on your level. You want the strongest Pokemon? Gotta level up, son, isn't that what happens in the GameBoy games?
It's like Niantic briefly played Pokemon Red, then went...hmmm, we can't just hire a guy to block their path, so instead let's just add in arbitrary levels. Job done team, let's have lunch. Those little shits will play this game forever now.
"Breakfast of champions here at Niantic headquarters."
No one stopped to think how horrible this would be. Pokemon isn't about simply finding the strongest stat Pokemon to break people, it's about forming an attachment to the Pokemon you use and building them from the ground floor. You trained them. You individualized them. The most fun I've ever had in the Pokemon Games has been from the random Nuzlock Challenges and it's because you connect with the Pokemon you play with.
*Starting Game* Bidoof? I never use Bidoof.
*Midway through game* HOLY GOD, MR. CHOPPY YOU'RE A DAMN MONSTER I LOVE YOU!
*End of Game* CRITICAL HIT, NOOOOOOOO, MR. CHOPPY!!!!!
Pokemon is about that connection. It's about individualizing a Pokemon to be your friend, unique, in the methods you've trained him or her. You both took a journey together through the games and just like the Dig-Knowing Charizard of my youth (Charbroiled) you fashioned memories by making other trainers cry. It'd be a shit journey if I got halfway through the game on the furious digging claws of Charbroiled only to throw him into the grinder to make room for the new Charizard with 200 more CP. Do you know dig New Charizard? No you dont. Get out of here.
An augmented reality game gave the Pokemon franchise an opportunity to become part of the real-world and they've done everything from a programming standpoint to destroy the fun of what augmented reality Pokemon could be. Why even bother leveling up my 480 CP Eevee at level 25 when I know at level 26, 27 or 28 I'll encounter a 580 or 620 CP Eevee? You know what's the best way to gain levels in Pokemon Go?
Chain-evolving tons of Pidgeys. Damnit all to hell. It's the Dante's Inferno of Pokemon Games (the book you cretins, not the game) except all levels of sin inevitably lead to Pidgey.
"I AM THE HARBINGER OF ETERNAL HELL-FIRE!"
2) Battles? Trades?
I was in 4th grade when the original Pokemon Red & Blue took the world's children hostage, you know what made them great? It sure wasn't raising a friend that did nothing with me, if that were the case we'd still be playing with Tamogatchis.
"Come back, friend. *cough* so cold..."
It was the ability to trade. Alternatively it was the ability to beat the living hell out of Stu's team of Pokemon during a battle, all the while listening to him scream in frustration as your Charizard just OHK'd his entire team with well placed digs. You think these wings make my Charizard fly? Not on my watch, Stu, you "STU-"pid bastard.
In Pokemon Go you do not trade, you do not battle, hell you don't even make a connection with the Pokemon you encounter. All the fundamentals of Pokemon as a franchise are immediately missing from the equation. How can the game survive on anything but novelty now? The rapid decline of Pokemon Go's userbase is the example of the novelty finally wearing off, just like it did on me!
How does Niantic fix these problems? Well for starters get rid of that horrible live combat swipe-fest and go back to the traditional turn based Pokemon battles. But no Moose, I can hear you say, people would just AFK (AFP?) out of battles. Well good sir or madam I retort, that is why we would implement a timer system to fix that issue.
Put a timer in place which gives the player being attacked a full minute to respond, if they fail to respond to those attacks they forfeit the match. Of course you could choose to accept a Pokemon battle if someone challenged you, wouldn't want non-consentual fights.
"I like your shorts, they're comfortable and easy to wear. I'll show you The Donald's grab attack. I'm famous. It'll be great."
Give battles an incentive besides Pokecoins, give Pokemon experience points again, let them level up and let trainers decide which moves should go where. Use Pokecoins as a means to buy TMs at the Poke-Store, it's a system that could easily work inside the already established structure for Pokemon Go, albeit with more success.
Resist the CP system, it's awful and it inherently limits the growth of your Pokemon.
Kill the idea of a trainer level. The world is a big place to explore, don't limit what a person can find based solely on trainer level. Pokemon are wild creatures. Nature does not hold your hand and stop you from getting attacked by a grizzly bear merely because you're a low level.
"Don't mind me, I've only got 10 CP."
At level 1 I should have just as much chance to encounter a 1200 CP Pokemon as I do at level 40. The natural world is sometimes random and dangerous, if you use an augmented reality system to project Pokemon into the real world the system of natural chaos found in nature should still apply.
Hey, they could even implement a system of healing your beaten Pokemon/Ego by visiting a Pokestop, everyone wins. [[editor's note: You cannot heal a bear attack at a Pokestop, please go to the hospital.]]
If you can't fix any of the above at least put in events. A lot of the Pokemon community would love to see Team Rocket invade their town.
Wild Pokemon events would be an amazing feature as well. Maybe the Gyarados by the local lake are having a fit? Maybe the Pidgeys are out of control down-town and need to be chased off by a confident trainer? Completing these events can award Poke-coins or experience for your Pokemon and would go a long way in making the whole experience of a real-life Pokemon game more real and that's ultimately what we want as players.
The great part about Pokemon Go was feeling as if you were a legitimate Pokemon Trainer doing legitimate Pokemon Trainer things. I can't have a carthartic bonding experience with a complete stranger over the Grimer that spawned at the coffee shop for the 10th time.
"I'm just not myself until I get my morning cup of joe."
My first night with the game was spent chasing Pokemon all over town with 150 other people. I spoke to perfect strangers and they spoke to me, asking me what Pokemon I've caught, where I found them, what my strongest Pokemon was and you know what? I didn't feel nervous.
Every aspect that keeps a society separate, race, police brutality, politics, wars, student loans, equality, class differences, they were all there-- looming over us as we played like always, but for a brief moment in time they went unnoticed, pushed aside for more hopeful aspirations like being the very best.
We all grew up with Pokemon, hoping, wishing that they were real so we could escape and go on adventures together. Then somewhere down the line we became adults and realized the world wasn't filled with wonder, it was filled with student loans, bills and bastards. Still, it was nice to live in that fantasy, if only for a little while. I don't want that feeling to go away just because Niantic seems hell-bent on driving the Pokemon Go plane into the ground, so hopefully someone out there at Niantic reads this and brings it up at the next meeting.
Take these ideas random Niantic-employee. Let Pokemon fans the world over help you. Short of biologically engineering a fire-lizard you're the closest thing I've got to traveling the world with Charbroiled.
With Sincerest Hopes,
Nickadimoose, a Pokemon Fan.