Reflecting on Pokémon Go: Part 2

If you’re just joining us now, take a look at part 1.


If you had asked any Pokémon fan what Niantic should prioritize after first releasing the Pokémon Go app, they would probably telly you something like the following list:

  1. App and server stability improvements
  2. Gradual introduction and testing of essential social features (it’s a mobile platform, after all):
    • Trading with friends
    • Battling with friends
    • Sharing on social media
  3. Gradual global roll-out of app availability
  4. Host an in-game special event
  5. Introduce new Pokémon

Instead, the timeline of app updates (excluding minor fixes) were as follows. This was taken from Niantic’s own site:

  • (7/2016) Aggressive global roll-out of app availability
  • (8/3/2016) Removal of “3-step” Pokémon locator
  • (8/8/2016) Refinements to catch rates
  • (8/18/2016) Crackdown on cheating
  • (8/22/2016) Appraisals from Red/Blue/Yellow Team Leaders
  • (8/29/2016) Un-banning of select user accounts
  • (9/2/2016) Buddy Pokémon
  • (9/16/2016) Pokémon Go Plus accessory finally lands in limited quantities
  • (10/10/2016) Gym training modifications

Up through mid-October, there did not seem to be a clear hierarchy of priorities. Many would agree that the global roll-out did not happen without issues. Also, many of these improvements were not only small, but they also were not anything close to what Pokémon fans were requesting from the app. And finally, the odd focus on eliminating cheating (which did result in the accidental banning of some legitimate accounts) did not endear any Pokémon fans, and may in fact have resulted in a worse user experience (recall the outcries during Niantic’s takedown of PokeVision).

However there is hope that Niantic is turning around.

Recently, Pokémon Go had a surprisingly successful Halloween event, which included increased appearance of certain Pokémon, faster Buddy Pokémon candy generation, increased transfer candy rewards, and significant XP boosts.

During the Halloween event, the app got a huge earnings boost; in fact, it was so successful that, understandably, Niantic decided to extend the event.

This means that, 4 months out, Niantic has the following left to do:

  1. App and server stability improvements
  2. Gradual introduction and testing of essential social features (it’s a mobile platform, after all):
    • Trading with friends
    • Battling with friends
    • Sharing on social media
  3. Gradual global roll-out of app availability
  4. Host an in-game special event
  5. Introduce new Pokémon

Hopefully Niantic’s analytics team is paying attention to what’s happening, and are now carefully studying the past 4 months. They must know now that Pokémon Go was not in an inevitable decline, that they’re still sitting on a massive golden mine, and that they still have the power to boost the app to new heights.

I am cautiously hopeful for the future of Pokémon Go. Come on, Niantic, give us what we want; it isn’t that hard to make Pokémon fans happy.

One thought on “Reflecting on Pokémon Go: Part 2”

  1. Do you think Niantic’s future success will come from bringing the game closer to its fan’s expectations and the original, or innovating? For example will introducing new Pokemon detract from diehards who might be insistent on at least achieving parity with the existing game world as they remember it? I definitely think that the success of the halloween event partially comes from enhancing some of the new game features developed specifically for Go, like the candies you get for walking. And how do you feel about the current battle system, which is nothing like what Pokemon players are used to, but may be something the new generation of adopters come to know as a standard? For me the fact that gyms can actually be held for longer is great, but that they’re all held by Mystics sucks.

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