After writing no fewer than 17 posts in the past few weeks about our globe's newest craze, I have some sad news to report to you all: Pokémon Go is a bad, bad game.
Why, you ask, would I seek to spoil an experience bringing so much joy to millions? Why yuck our Great Nostalgic Yum? Foremost, because I am a bitter, unsentimental man. But mostly it’s for your own good. Let me shout the ways:
Many things have stood between Pokémon Go players and this elusive quality called “fun” since the “game’s” release just over a month ago. Initially it was a total lack of in-game direction or tutorial, followed by server issues, hacks, and app crashes, all of which caused players to lose out on catches or waste valuable items. Great start guys. Then it was the three-step bug which made locating monsters impossible. (Third-party services that alleviated that issue were shut down by the game’s creator, Niantic, because fuck anyone trying to not wander around aimlessly.) More recently, escape rates have skyrocketed and monsters seem to change to new species after they’re caught. Swell.
Players also realise this supposedly casual game is also hiding key information from them, requiring a massive crowdsourcing project and the work of some blackhat hackers to figure out. Yes, we’re still talking about a game that is ostensibly for children.
In-game resources don’t scale properly and the XP curve is unforgiving (see: thoroughly broken) at higher levels. GPS tracking is wildly inaccurate, and the requirement to leave the app maximised is ridiculous. It drains battery and data, and caused a friend’s phone to regularly overheat. Trading never happened and gym mechanics make almost no sense. Spoofing is rampant, to the point where Twitch is cracking down on players who break the game’s Terms of Service on air. Services are selling high level trainers for hundreds of pounds — which is both cheating and a sign of how fucking boring the game is to play.
Every one of those totally legitimate issues is a distraction from the larger problem: the game sucks, right down to its brittle, sucky bones. Maybe playing Pokémon Go gives the impression that you — the player — have some level of control and self-determination over your team of cockfighting anime monsters. You don’t. The game is a sprinkle of dumb luck with a heart-stopping dose of relentless grind, and the latter only gets worse the longer you play. (Interestingly, Niantic recently claimed that the game was only 10% of what it could be. If the other 90% per cent is going to be that infuriating, the company can hold it right there, TYVM.)
You can’t catch ‘em all, as the tagline goes, because many monsters are either unavailable or region-specific, and you can’t become a gym leader for any meaningful amount of time. The battle mechanics are laggy and lopsided. The same five monsters seem to dominate every gym, only to be replaced within minutes by a different team’s identical monsters in any reasonably populous area. So what’s the end goal here? To slowly and painfully shamble towards the next level, where the rewards cease to meet the required effort?
It’s getting people outside in terrifying droves, but everyone I’ve met in this fashion I could have happily never spoken to. Pokémon is not a defining part of my personality. I have enough friends. The only thing that was ever fun about Pokémon Go was figuring out just what we were supposed to be doing. Now we know the answer: wander, pray, get our arses kicked by cheaters. I’m deleting my account (so long, Bongqueen69) and so should you.