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Why Pokémon GO had to Pokémon go away

Why Pokémon GO had to Pokémon go away

Pokémon GO: two words that have littered news, social media and actual human mouth feeds for weeks now. The game has spawned a colossal mess of coverage (including this very article, yes) that looks to demonize, elevate and celebrate it to varying degrees. I played it for two weeks before uninstalling it, and it was cause for some reflection.

We all know that Pokémon GO will result in the collapse of capitalism, or, on a more personal level, death, or at least being maimed and / or robbed of your possessions, and yet many people continue to play it anyway. Why?

I was wise enough to uninstall it after a two weeks, but it wasn’t a fear of untimely death or the prospect of a post-apocalyptic wasteland that provoked this decision.

AndroidPIT pokemon go outside test 3
Who am I, and what am I doing? Important questions to ask when playing Pokémon GO. / © AndroidPIT

Pokémon GO, I choose you!

In the beginning, Pokémon GO attracted me. I was a shameless Pokémon Blue addict and was thrilled to transfer all my Pokémon onto my N64 and battle them in the 3D Pokémon Stadium.

The gratification I derived from growing my collection of creatures was undeniable; Pokémon’s formula was a narcotic for anyone with a collector's urge and an easily stoked sense of pride. I had always dreamed of a proper 3D Pokémon game, so one based in actual reality was still alluring, even years after I’d stopped playing the games.

I downloaded the app and started walking around the sickly green-blue world of Pokémon GO the first day it was available. And make no mistake, when I played Pokémon GO, I wasn’t walking around the actual world, i.e. Earth, I was walking around the sickly green-blue parallel world of Pokémon GO. Practically the only time I looked up from my phone was to react in fight-or-flight panic to the fearsome clatter and call of a cyclist almost breaking my legs.

The most I saw of my surroundings was through the augmented reality mode that I used when a Pokémon appeared nearby. The game did little but sever me from reality; I could have been walking along a park pathway, through the dappled, late-afternoon light of July, or the wasted ruins of a post-Pokémon GO society; it all looks the same flattened onto the sprawling psychedelic anemia of Pokémon GO’s map.

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In this image, I have no idea where I am. / © AndroidPIT

There are many Pokéballs of hatred I could hurl at Pokémon GO. Over the past few weeks, it has been blamed for everything that ails humanity, from degenerative brain disorders to the socioeconomic pitfalls of capitalism, but my problem with the game is much more simple.

The game is rubbish

Although I find Pokémon GO to be an extension of everything that is wrong with smartphones, that isn’t even the reason I chose to uninstall the game. I chose to uninstall it because it simply isn’t very good. Admittedly, this is the first game of its type, and it’s a promising start. But that isn’t a reason to play it. In the original Pokémon games, you would get a starter Pokémon, and it would grow stronger alongside you; it would be a valuable companion throughout your journey. In Pokémon GO, your early Pokémon quickly become useless. The game has degraded the bond you form with your Pokémon, turning them into symbolic objects that are largely deprived of meaning, easily discarded and forgotten. This is the antithesis of what Pokémon should be about.

Moreover, limply hurling Pokéballs at spectral Pokémon sucks; it's no different to that Messenger basketball game. In the original series of games, you have to combat the Pokémon you encounter and then attempt to catch them, once they have become thoroughly exhausted. While this is cruel, it’s also more fun. In Pokémon GO, I can’t fight with my Pokémon at all. They’re controlled by a computer, and the Pokémon battles are never between me and another human player.

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Throwing Pokéballs is boring. / © AndroidPIT

All of this adds up to a boring game. Maybe Niantic will add or improve all of these things, and I’m just impatient. But then why did Niantic release a game so woefully featureless to begin with? I think the problem is fundamental: Pokémon GO misunderstands Pokémon and the collectors' ambition; it offers up a meek attempt to translate the franchise, serving up little more than an impressive fad that will fade like so many Pokéballs tossed into a digital oblivion.

After having uninstalled Pokémon GO, there have been no pangs of regret, no sense of loss. Not once I have opened my app drawer to commit a subconscious search for the non-existent app. It’s gone, and I’m glad for that.

What are your current thoughts on Pokémon GO? Let us know in the comments. 

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  • Sophia Aug 16, 2016 Link to comment

    Maybe you should replay it when it's done. Only 10% of the game is in the game right now

  • Iran has the right idea, they have BANNED Pokemon Go! I hope Canada does that same!

  • "I'm trying to figure out how we get them to have Pokemon Go to the polls."

    Biggest cringe of 2016.

  • I actually agree with Chris's article. But it angered me when he stated;
    "this is the first game of its type"
    Have you been living in a hole? Niantic had Ingress long before the Pokemon Go junk, and Ingress is way better, it's an ADULT version of Pokemon Go! With way better game play. And the best part is, Niantic took all the portals from Ingress, many of which were submitted by Ingress players like myself and just STUCK them into Pokemon Go.
    The only reason I stopped playing was because portals are too far apart in my area, forcing me to drive to them rather than walk, and the amount of data I was using was nuts.
    I would much rather Fight against the enemy team, protecting portals and creating energy fields, than lobbing balls at children's characters.

    • Yep. Fair enough, Kevin. What I meant was the first of its type on this scale, rather than the very first, period. I accept your criticism.

      It's interesting that you seem to be angry about Niantic's treatment of players, as well, as it seems to be a recurring theme, which may be worth investigating as well.

      • I disagree with that statement as well, Ingress is, or at least WAS pretty huge. I mean massive groups in different Countries, were trading portal keys across the globe, meaning they actually were travelling and dropping them in other countries, and making enormous fields. Ingress is also by far superior, there is way more to the game. Co workers play Pokemon Go, and I have seen it, and I don't understand why these people aren't playing Ingress, it just seems it would be much more suited to an adult personality.
        To be fair though, I think Ingress would have been a lot more popular if it hadn't been in Beta forever and invite only. Either way. I didn't grow up on Pokemon, or any Japanamae . I grew up on Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry. I find it a tad odd for adults to be out playing what for all intents and purposes is a children's game .
        No scatching remarks people, it's simply an opinion. You all have the right to your own.

  • I think Pokemon Go and Niantic misunderstanding the true ethos of Pokemon is spot on. Adaptations of Japanese IP to western markets often get, as the saying goes, lost in translation and it's the nuanced details informed by the culture of Japan that make something like Pokemon great. Most times the greatness as it exist in Japan can't be replicated or transferred over, and when the latter is possible, sometimes the idea goes from great to just good. And porting over is one thing but a developing company outside of Japan making a very Japanese game is quite the hurdle.

    How much time was spent by Niantic to make the gameplay informed by the legacy of the series and how much time was spent on a host of other concerns like servers, augmented reality, the in-app purchase system, GPS issues and other technical things that it took to get the app off the ground? Consequently, how many gameplay features were killed because it needed to work with some or all of those things?

    It's surely a daunting task in these times for developers of first-tier properties compared to the self-contained space of the console generation of past where a game was made for one specific system and updates couldn't be made except in the form of a new sequel. In the end, content is always king and it's what gives a game longevity. However, in the great viral-app space race, it seems that content is just one of many things on the whiteboard staring at developers instead of the most important thing.

  • Pokémon Go and Niantek. Niantek is linked to Dick Cheney and the NSA. It is little more than a tool to melt the brains of our young whilst they unknowingly and probably unwillingly gather data, images and intelligence for security agencies! Note the disclaimer on the app that says any data, intelligence, or audio and visual files can and may be turned over and use by law enforcement. Think about it people... if say the FBI wanted a look inside your house for instance and were unable to obtain a search warrant. Easy to spawn a rare Pokèmut inside that house and let either some kid or a braindead adult do the surveillance for them... but keep playing everyone. Gotta Catch 'Em All!!!

  • Whenever you feel stupid, remember that there are people outside looking for pokemon.

  • I like the game. It's a Nice social game, allowing you to meget with strangers and have Fun a few hours togetter. It's Fun to play when you visit a new city as you automatically visit the Great Places of the city. You talk about gameplay but miss how much it has brought people togetter across gender and ages

    • Sure it is, or to be lured to a desolate area by thugs, and get robbed or better yet stabbed.
      And you may even come across a body or two!

  •   31
    Deactivated Account Jul 31, 2016 Link to comment

    this is the first Pokemon go article I've read .... and the last..
    life's too short, and the "real" world is far more interesting and beautiful and a lot more rewarding than playing Pogo....

  • I have no interest in it, but well recall a few months back in 2013 when I was repeatedly riding the Via train back and forth Toronto - Montreal, and that every other seat was occupied by somebody playing Candy Crush on a phone or tablet. I can't help wondering what happens with this game over long trip on a passenger train or bus?

    • I do see people playing it on the bus/train, the problem is that most of the time the bus/train is just too fast. Afaik you cant play the game if you travel too fast, not sure tho as I am not playing the game.
      Oh and at least Pokémon GO is way more social in that aspect than something like Candy Crush, isnt it?

  • So I have to say that I agree, it's a time suck. I have it to see what is all about. And because my children are playing it. But now have lost interest. I think I agree with some of the tech reporters that what this basically is is an exercise program for nerds. Enough said. Uninstalled.......

  • Nice subjective article. "It simply isnt very good". Good journalism.

  • They could have done so much better for sure. But I guess its better than we got a mobile Pokemon game, and that it has been doing incredibly well. Perhaps this is motivation for Nintendo to release an official Pokemon game?

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