Pokemon GO's Core Premise Is Crumbling Underneath It
At some point during the past couple weeks, you may have seen this super-relatable tweet (or an unoriginal duplicate) floating around:
And yet, this kind of forgets about the fact that Pokemon GO is still up and running pretty dang strong -- it pulled in more money in 2019 than it did in its first year. But here we are, three months into 2020 ( ... wait three months? ONLY THREE MONTHS?! *deep breath*), and it's become more important than ever that we do the opposite of what Pokemon GO was designed to get us to do, which is stay the heck indoors. Pokemon GO, realizing the terrible predicament this puts them in, has had to come up with some quick solutions.
First, they took away the walking requirements for one of their newest features, the Battle League. That was a really good step, because despite what a good job the game did at getting us up and, you know, moving, the core constituency is still gamers, and we ain't the most inherently active bunch. We still kinda whine and complain whenever new GO features require us to do more walking. It's so exciting when they have little egg-hatching promos that cut your hatch distance walking in half. In fact, the only item in the in-app store really worth the coins is the egg incubator that takes 33% off your needed trudging.
So that's why it's a big deal that Pokemon GO developer Niantic is taking away walking requirements from one of its biggest features -- raids. For those of you who stopped playing in August 2016, raids are where a supercharged version of a Pokemon that isn't so common in "the wild," shows up at a Pokemon Gym. Some of them can be done solo, some require multiple people, but the biggest thing is that you have to actually be at one. And in this current time of quarantining, it's not a great idea to head to your local gym-filled cemetery, lest you wind up in one permanently.
What Niantic is floating in an official post from the company, but hasn't quite installed yet, is that you will eventually be able to raid from home:
"[We're] enhancing our in-game virtual social features to enable players to stay in touch when they can't meet in real life. You'll soon be able to team up with friends and take on Raid Battles together in Pokemon GO from the comfort of home."
They're also going to introduce a more sensitive motion tracking sort of system, so that the game will count steps you take around the house -- whether that means walking around cleaning your room or pacing back and forth like a cabin fever-infected maniac.
If Niantic really does find a way to make it so that so many of the key features of the game can be conducted without walking anywhere, what does that say about the game itself then? Their core gameplay was built around getting folks moving around their towns, exploring new ones, getting lost in a haunted abandoned hospital, etc. It's a decision that'll certainly help us get through this crazy time in history, but it's gonna have weird ramifications after we're on the other side. After all, why bother going through Victory Road to get to the Elite Four if you can just beat them when you make a couple of trips between Sofa City and Refridgerator Island?
Top Image: The Pokemon Company