Pokémon GO, despite practically taking over the world, certainly has some issues both as a game and as an application. The nostalgic exuberance of Pokémon coming to life around us masks a lot of these issues admittedly – but for Pokémon GO to continue dominating the planet, Nintendo and Niantic will need to ensure that it is updated in the right way.
Splatoon very recently showed us that Nintendo is capable of such a task. With regular free updates and events, both small and large, that game was able to stay fresh (sorry) and even progressed enough that IGN warranted it a second review. Nevertheless, to help out, we’ve constructed a list of just 5 ways to significantly improve the mobile phenomenon that is Pokémon GO.
Fix Those Glitches
Let’s get the practical stuff out of the way first. Honestly, the plethora of crashes that many have experienced playing Pokémon GO needs to be ironed out. The major one that should be top of Nintendo and Niantic’s list of priorities is the case of the static Poké Ball. Many a time, a casual, easy-does-it throw of a Poké Ball has led to frustration as it doesn’t do the expected 1-2-3 fidget. No, it just stays there, frozen, until your patience runs out and you close the app. This sacrifices not only the Pokémon, but the Poké Ball as well! When this happens with a common Pokémon, such as a Pidgey, it isn’t too enraging, but if it occurred in my long-awaited encounter with a Growlithe? Well, it won’t end well, let’s just say that.
As well as this, occasional server issues can cause issues with getting into the app in general. Though, with the amount of people trying to use GO, that is understandable right now…
Keep Pokémon Varied
As with pretty much everything that is popular, Pokémon GO will have an inevitable drop off at some point. The big thing to consider here, though, is how long the lifespan of the game will be. Look at Miitomo, Nintendo’s last major mobile release. It had a short period of intense popularity, but quickly faded as its limited functionality led to waning interest. But just like the series of Pokémon itself, it could be possible to refine much of GO‘s currently substantial player base into a devoted long-term following. To do this, GO needs to stay varied and interesting; repetition will eventually overcome the nostalgia of seeing the original 151 Pokémon out in the real world.
Even now, Pidgey and Rattata constantly popping up is already getting a little old. In my eyes, there are two ways in which this can be combated. Firstly, Nintendo can rotate the likelihood of certain Pokémon appearing in different areas – for example, one week Pidgey are common in an area, but in another week maybe that changes to Spearow or Farfetch’d. Secondly, a potentially better way of keeping GO going is to introduce more generations of Pokémon. The original 151 are unquestionably the most identifiable, especially in general pop culture, but let’s not ignore the quality of the designs in Johto, Hoenn and beyond. Let’s see these appear around us, if only to counteract the Rattata infestations going on…
A (Pokémon) Center of Operations
Another great way to improve Go would be to emphasise the idea of going out, finding Pokémon and items, and then coming home to evaluate your findings. Here is my proposal: enable players to set their own bases. These bases could be placed anywhere that isn’t dangerous (we don’t want kids setting camp on roads, or leading people to their homes) and would be where your Pokémon army hangs out.
Taking inspiration from the main Pokémon series itself, these could be customisable in the vein of Hoenn’s Secret Bases or Sinnoh’s Underground. These two features have the elements of discovery and social interaction that are so prominent in Pokémon GO, so combining the two could result in something really special. Imagine finding a tree or cave and claiming it as your base, where people come to battle you! While this improvement is less needed, and more indulgent, than the two previous points in this article, it would add a stronger sense of ownership to the game.
For such a social game, which has seen players interact in real life while enjoying finding Pokémon, there is a distinct lack of opportunities to connect with other people in-game. The only real way to do it is through Pokémon Gyms and utilising Lures that have been placed by others, but this is a secondary source of interaction. Go all the way back to Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue and something the series has always pushed is linking up with other players in order to optimise your own experience. We already know that trading is on its way to GO, but to take this further, why don’t we look at the 3DS? StreetPass has been a revelation on that system, allowing players to access the rest of the 3DS community and enjoy the benefits of doing so. Why not do something similar on mobile with Pokémon GO?
Imagine the ability to literally pass people on the street, and have their Pokémon GO avatars pop up for you to look at. From here, you could trade Pokémon and items and even battle! Just like in the main series Pokémon games, locking eyes with someone on the street means you’re now in a Pokémon battle with them. Okay, second thoughts – just to prevent Pokémon-fueled riots, we’ll keep it all in-game. Pokémon gets real competitive, y’know.
Leading on from the last point, Pokémon GO is missing a key social function that would push its already-stratospheric popularity to another level: social media options. Other than screenshots (often of disgruntled-looking Pidgeys), there is little opportunity to share your Pokémon GO experience with the mass viewership of social media. Adding the ability to share your teams, accomplishments, and favourite moments to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al would only encourage the sharing that is already happening on those platforms.
Whether it be obtaining a Medal, managing to get your prized Pokémon atop a Gym, or catching your 2000th Pidgey, there is a lot to shout about in Pokémon GO. So let us, please!
Friends & Shout-Outs
Adding on from our previous two suggestions, with Pokémon GO already being a proven social success, the game could likely greatly benefit from a built-in Friends List and messaging functionality.
It’s highly likely that you will encounter other players on your travels that you may want to stay in contact with such as fellow team members, but exchanging phone numbers or adding each other on social media is currently the only way to do so. For people who may not feel comfortable sharing such information, what if Pokémon GO had an in-game Friends List where you could update local players on rare Pokémon sightings, gym ownerships or plans to activate a Lure Module? Due to safeguarding, these will likely have to be limited options consisting of pre-written message prompts similar to Monster Hunter, but those would work just fine!
There you go! That was 6 ways in which Pokémon GO could be improved. Do you have any of your own ideas, or are you too busy searching for a Blastoise to suggest anything? Let us know in the comments! Also, you can read a reaction to a day of playing Pokémon GO here!