This past weekend was the 1st anniversary of Pokemon Go, celebrated through a one-day festival in Chicago, Illinois on July 22 for fans all over to capture new legendaries and share their passions for the game. Unfortunately, Pokemon Go Fest was a disaster. With crazy lines and servers down, attendees were unable to play the game. Niantic is doing major damage control, providing refunds and in-game money. This hasn’t been the first time Niantic messed up: the initial months of the game’s launch were filled with server issues, the game took a long time to introduce a next generation, and the developer in general lacks communication and responding to player issues.
I spent this past weekend if Chicago for vacation and had no idea this was happening, and one of my closest friends attended this and relayed the news of how terrible everything was. Include everything said above with humid weather, and you have a recipe for disaster. What surprised me the most was regardless of this mess, the next day people were still playing Pokemon all over Chicago as if nothing ever happened. Walking to Willis Tower and Field Museum, areas were crowded with raids on Lugias and Articuno.
After everything that’s happened, why is Pokemon Go still popular?
Although the peak of its popularity comes the summer of 2016, there are tons of people still playing the game. Niantic reported 65 million users playing the game as of April 20171. Niantic has been done many things wrong, they are doing a lot of things right:
Keeping the mystery alive through augmented reality (AR)
You’ll never know what Pokemon is before you, and there’s an appeal to going about your daily life and knowing something new can pop up at any time. The game is still internationally played, with certain Pokemon available in specific countries and encouraging people to find them all. Mapping creates surprises with stops and discovering new monsters.
You can’t deny mobile games are huge, and with bigger and better smartphones being made that market is never dying down. We’re always going to have a market of hardcore games with PCs and consoles, a market of casual gamers who would rather join a raid in passing, and a market for those in-between. Nintendo and Niantic has been taking full advantage of portability with the new Switch and mobile games. If something’s easy to play, why not?
At the end of the day, it’s a Pokemon game
One of the biggest gaming franchises, Pokemon Go and their games will be as strong as their fanbase. Alongside updates with Pokemon Go, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will be coming out later this year. The game is beloved, and no one can deny that. It’s bound to survive for a while as long as Niantic limits big mistakes.
All these three things bring the game together. Pokemon Go is different from anything their other games can provide because it’s integrated with the world around you and easy to carry around. Fans aren’t just playing a character anymore; fans can be the Pokemon Master they’ve always wanted to be.