Is Pokémon GO even worth playing now?

TL;DR = No it’s not

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I hate clickbaity titles so I’ll go ahead and give you the TL;DR = No it’s not.

To put some additional perspective on my opinion, I have been playing Pokémon since shortly after the release of Pokémon Red & Blue in the US sometime in ’98. I have played every generation, have some merchandise here and there in my home, still have my cards from the TCG, and played to level 21 in Pokémon GO. I absolutely love and enjoy the Pokémon franchise and I am repulsed by Pokémon GO right now.

Niantic Labs, creators of Pokémon GO, are undoubtedly trying their hardest. They aren’t a large tech firm and I’m sure it is not easy to handle the MOST POPULAR APP IN THE WORLD. Who could have guessed what an overnight sensation it would become?

One of the largest issues that I and many others have had since the release of this app is the Tracking system or lack thereof. Pokémon GO had a tracking system during the Beta and on release that quickly stopped working. Since Niantic Labs remained silent about fixing this system, the community banded together and formed many alternatives to track Pokémon down in the world. Some of these utilizing a little knowledge of common spawning locations, others tapping into the very information networks that the game is based on.

Niantic Labs shut down any and all 3rd party tracking with their most recent update. And the icing on the cake? Not only didn’t they fix their own tracking system, they removed it entirely. Now the best the players can do is enter the tall grass and hope for random encounters.

In the past, when a rare or coveted Pokémon appeared on the tracking system’s “Nearby” list my eyes would widen in excitement. My focus would change to this new goal and I would set off on a mission in the direction of my quarry. This hunt was fun! And that fun is gone now. In stark contrast now when a Pokémon’s silhouette appears on the Nearby list I shrug my shoulders because there isn’t any way for me to hunt down that Pokémon with any certainty. It’s distressing, frustrating, and makes the entire game not worthwhile as long as this issue persists.

The silence kills me. Niantic Labs is making updates, and I see the occasional communication from them but only through alternative sources. Players are in the dark, and that should not be the case. Niantic needs to take the reigns and be the primary source of information about their own game. Rumors and myths are spreading in the community with disappointment and frustrations growing without stop.

Riot Games, creators of the immensely popular League of Legends, has terrific business practice regarding updates, game fixes, and communicating to their player base. They release extensively written out patch notes about changes that are made and include statements of their purpose and goals with those changes. Perhaps its unfair to compare Riot who is so well established and has had years to get into this business practice, but perhaps it should be expected. While Niantic Labs are practically pioneering the Augmented Reality Game, they are absolutely not pioneering the operation of a popular modern game. I hope they take a note from the many other publishers with excellent public relations like Riot Games, Blizzard Entertainment, and not least of all Nintendo.

I want Pokémon GO to be fun. This is a game that has lots of potential and it wouldn’t even be difficult to continue to release content for Pokémon GO for years to come. They’ve currently released as much content as was available in 1998, they have 18 years worth of games to pull content from. You’re sitting on top of a goldmine Niantic, other firms would kill to be in your position. You’d better make it count.

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