A Year Later, I’m Done with Pokémon Go

When Pokémon Go first came out over a year ago, I was excited. Ever since I started playing Pokémon, I had dreamt about a world where you could go out, capture friendly monsters and train them to be both friends and protectors.

Based on how popular the game was within the first month, it would seem many others felt the same way. Crowds could be found hanging out around Pokéstops and gyms, or walking up and down roads to see what elusive monsters they could find.

But that only lasted a month because the game was shallow. Catching Pokémon was a straightforward affair, and didn’t involve any battles using existing Pokémon. Gym battles were a mess of mechanics, and were quickly dominated by cheaters and/or people with powerful Pokémon. And this was all on top of constant server and connectivity issues.

Still, there was enough potential that I stuck with the game. A year later, the game is in better shape server-side, and has completely revamped the gym mechanics. But through all that, there are signs that the game is going in a direction that doesn’t appeal to me.

While I’d be lying if I said I’ll never be opening the game again, I can certainly say that I won’t be investing as much time, effort or money moving forward.

Here’s why:

I’m tired of the crashing Apple Watch app
It has been almost a year since Pokémon Go released their companion Apple Watch app, and in that time none of the glitches have been dealt with. The game will randomly decide to stop sending notifications or, even worse, just outright crash. If you were hoping that the app would record your walk, you might be in for a disappointing surprise when you finish up and realize it crashed a few minutes in. So much for hatching eggs.

I’m tired of glitches everywhere else
The Watch app is one thing — if they want to let that go stale, fine. It’s probably a small enough audience that most people don’t notice. But the game itself isn’t exactly free of bugs. While the server-side issues are mostly resolved, the game itself will randomly glitch out, especially when interacting with gyms. This is particularly bad when you’re in the middle of a battle and the game decides to error out. Sometimes it’s clear what happened (usually GPS drift), sometimes it’s not. Either way, you tend to get blocked from interacting with that gym for a non-trivial amount of time, destroying any of the hard work you had invested.

I’m tired of the focus on gyms
Okay, so the intentions are respectable: lets get people outside and interacting with friends or fellow Pokémon fans. But the game’s only solution to this seems to be through gym battles. And so, suddenly, everything interesting in the game is through a gym.

Want coins? Defend a gym. Want to test the battle performance of your Pokémon? Fight at a gym. Want a legendary? Wait for one to appear at a gym and hope that a bunch of people are available to help you at the exact right moment.

Gyms are an important aspect of the Pokémon games, but they’re not the only aspect. This became all the more clear to me with their recent announcement that the legendary beasts would be at gym raids in the same way they were for the legendary birds. But in the original games, the beasts wandered around the world and would sometimes appear in random encounters. So why not do the same in Pokémon Go? Were they worried it would make it too easy to catch them? Maybe they could have used that as an excuse to improve the Pokémon capture experience. Or they could have mirrored the game, and made it so the beasts fled after the first move unless you did something to coax it to stay. But no: gym raids are the shiny new toy and, gosh darn it, we’re going to make use of them.

I’m tired of spending money
I’ve spent more money on Pokémon Go than I care to admit, primarily on incubators. I did this happily in the hope that the focus of the game would shift to cater to many different play styles. However, I see that is not the case. This is not what a Pokémon game is to me.

I’m upset because I’m a fan
This post might sound like a lot of complaining, but I’m writing it out of love: love for Pokémon in general and love for Pokémon Go’s concept. I want to see it improve and incorporate more of what makes the core game so fun.

I look forward to once again playing the game in earnest and happily supporting it financially. But that time is not now.

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