Pokémon Go is the mobile game sensation that briefly took over the world when it premiered in July. It’s been out for two months now, and it has lost millions of users since its explosive debut. Loyal players are still getting updates that improve playability and enjoyment, but many have stopped playing completely.
Why are you still playing? Or if you’re not, why did you stop? Let’s look at some of the factors that affect the Pokémon Go experience.
Suburbanite vs. City Dweller
I’m lucky enough to live in a major city, so I have all the problems that other Go players might be jealous of: my backpack is always running out of space, I miss Pokéstops while I’m walking around trying to catch Pokémon, and my phone dies less than 2 hours after leaving my apartment. While these issues annoy me, they don’t prevent me from enjoying the game. In fact, other than my phone dying from the battery problem, these are pretty good problems to have, and it means I always have something to do when I log in.
On the flip side, if you live in the suburbs or anywhere rural, you’re going to have a completely different experience: driving slowly around neighborhoods, Pokéstops few and far between, desperate to catch a glimpse of even a simple rattata. In fact, you might have trouble playing at all, if you’re somewhere without reliable phone service. I went on vacation a few days after Go first came out and I totally felt like I was missing out by not being able to hunt Pokémon while I hiked.
People who are abandoning Go now might be the same people who were stuck in Poké-deadzones.
If you live somewhere where the Pokémon don’t floweth over, try this: Make an event out of it! Take a trip to somewhere you wouldn’t normally go. (But make sure to pack a backup phone battery…)
Social vs. Antisocial
Pokémon Go was heralded as a game that brought people together. Gamers who would usually be inside are out and about, getting exercise, and meeting like-minded folks in spontaneous gatherings. Especially right when the game came out, you could clearly see who was playing based on how they were walking with their smart phones – for example, if they stopped every few steps to raise their phones and swipe like mad.
However, I’m not that social – I’m not interested in grouping up with strangers and making new friends. It’s great that Pokémon Go provides this for people who are excited about it! But what does it offer for people like me, who did not enjoy conversations with strangers every time I went for a Pokéwalk?
Though you run the risk of social interaction by simply leaving your house, there is not actually much inherent socializing in Pokémon Go. You can’t battle other players, you can’t trade with other trainers, and the wild Pokémon that appear are not exclusive – they’ll be available for anyone in the area to catch (so, no fighting with strangers over pokémon). You are in competition with other players for gym ownership, but that doesn’t involve any actual interaction. They might not even be there at the time you’re trying to take their gym.
People who were interested in Go for the social aspect might have left disappointed, while those who didn’t like the social aspect might have been hesitant to walk around outside and chat.
If you want to socialize: Do it! Go to your nearest Pokéstop and make some friends. Pokémon Go gives you a great way to connect, even if you can’t trade pokémon (yet).
If you don’t want to talk to anyone: That’s fine! Luckily for you, you don’t have to. If you’re careful, no one can really tell if you’re playing or not. (Tip: Turn off the camera so that you don’t have to aim your phone while swiping to catch. That’s a big giveaway.) Plus, not as many people are playing now, so you’re less likely to have random people calling out to you on the street.
Mobile Game Lover vs. Not a Big Mobile Gamer
Pokémon Go is unusual for a mobile game because you can’t just mindlessly sit in your cubicle or on the train and power through zillions of levels. Pokémon Go doesn’t just encourage you to leave the house to play – it requires you to do so.
If you need the constant engagement (such as you get from a game like Candy Crush or Temple Run) you might get frustrated by the slower pace and diminished activity of Pokémon Go. It won’t satisfy your commute boredom. This could be where Pokémon Go lost a lot of interest. However, people who already play a lot of mobile games have the option to switch back to those when they’re not doing anything on Pokémon Go. They’re already engaged with their phones.
If you’re already a big mobile gamer: Arm yourself with other games to play when you run out of pokéthings to do, but don’t forget to switch back when you’re walking around! Try setting challenges for yourself (like hatching one egg a day) so you feel the draw to go back.
If you’re not used to gaming on your phone a lot – not only do you have to be walking around to play, but you have to constantly have the app open or you can’t participate in the game activities. You can’t set up push notifications for Pokémon, you have to actually be able to see the action on your phone. You’re pretty much glued to your phone, at least while you’re playing. If you’re not used to this, it might seem like a chore. However, since Pokémon Go requires limited engagement (you could just walk around holding your phone and still get steps that count toward in game items and level ups), it’s actually a pretty good app for people who aren’t avid mobile gamers. You just have to remember to open it up!
Pokémon Go has been bleeding users, and has gone from full blown fad to old news rather quickly. Although the mass exodus of users is unfortunate, it seems inevitable. The briefly popular but quickly abandoned Miitomo provided a preview for the rapid rise and decline of Pokémon Go. Lots of people are quick to jump on a hype train and just as quick to jump off when they grow bored. Perhaps if Pokémon Go manages to fix all of the issues people have with it, it may continue to do well. However, it’s unlikely that it will be able to regain or maintain the level of popularity it had when it first debuted.
As for me – I got logged out once, forgot my password, and haven’t logged in since… I keep meaning to go back, but it’s been quite a long time. I think when Sun & Moon come out, and my Pokéxcitement is recharged, I’ll start up again.