Make no mistake – aside from the absolute shitshow of a launch they had, Summer 2016 was the Summer of Pokémon Go.
One could say that Niantic – a small group of devs out of San Francisco who recently split from Google – was in over their heads. Pokémon Go’s hype was enough to get a lot of people to look past its initial flaws. It had strangers networking, running around in parks to catch Pokémon, and making friends. Articles and hot takes and thinkpieces flooded my Facebook feed, on whether or not the game was healthy for you… Oh, and the media still had no fucking clue what a “Pokemon” was.
But after the honeymoon phase began to wear off, people start realizing that hey – nothing new had come out in a long time. No new features, more prevalent bugs, and a lack of communication altogether from Niantic made a perfect shitstorm that’d make Mark Wahlberg soil his cargo shorts. Not only that, but instead of communicating that hey – maybe our app isn’t perfect but we’re working on it – Niantic blocked users from taking advantage of apps that actually helped their game to – y’know – function. Personally, that’s where they lost me. I couldn’t find new Pokemon anywhere (which is, as it turns out, the objective of the game), and the lack of any sort of in-game tracker that actually worked was enough to get me to ignore the app.
Then, like a ray of fucking sunshine after a months-long thunderstorm, Niantic thought it might be a good idea to open their mouths and explain themselves. Fast forward a few more weeks, and now Niantic’s CEO Mark Quigley is sitting down with the jolly old chaps at Eurogamer to explain his thoughts on where the app could go from here. He likens the user-base and usage of the app to what MMOs experience.
“I think our lifespan and curve may be quite different from a free-to-play mobile game – it may be more in a [World of] Warcraft vein just because of the type of game we are. It’s not about taking a bunch of money off the table and going. Monetisation has never been the focus for us. It’s about doing right by the brand and doing right by the fans.” -Mark Quigley, CEO of Niantic Labs
Personally, I think that comparison is terrible – because World of Warcraft gets patches and hotfixes every Tuesday. While you can’t compare the size of Blizzard to Niantic, Mark Quigley did it anyway. But does he have a point? Maybe. Pokemon has a nigh-unlimited well of new monsters to put out – but I think it’s just too little, too late for most fans. They’ve taken their sweet time with updates and new features, and I’m not exactly confident that we’ll get game-changing new content as often as we do with MMOs.
Are you still keeping up with Pokemon Go, or has the app lost your interest? Let us know on Twitter at @WickedGoodGames.