Why I’ve stopped playing Pokemon Go
It’s fair to say Pokemon Go consumed my life upon release. Catching Pokemon in the real world was a lifelong dream finally realised, and I played for hours a day, glued to my phone as I walked around town. And I wasn’t alone – in a month the game broke records for the most revenue generated in the Apple Store, and amassed more users than Twitter.
In the weeks following its release however, the game suffered from its own success, with publisher Niantic admitting that they hadn’t anticipated the levels of interest it generated, with crashes, bugs and the inability to log in becoming a pain.
But like millions of other players I stuck with it, forgiving the teething pains and the downtime, all in the hope that one day the thing would be stable.
And sure enough stability improved, with logins rarely failing and Pokemon popping up frequently.
The problem is, I’m now finding myself completely disinterested, and it isn’t the technical issues that are putting me off. There are numerous key things about the game itself that have caused me to lose all enthusiasm. Here they are:
Levelling up in the game is key to progression – it allows for stronger Pokemon, and access to better, more exotic items. Pokemon Go adopts an exponential levelling system, meaning as you progress through the levels, it takes a greater more XP to reach the next, and so forth.
This is fine in theory, however the fact that the exponentials are rather harsh, and the fact that what you have to actually do to level up isn’t exactly compelling, means that after level 20 it becomes a real slog. This site handily gives you a guide on how long it will take you to reach the game’s pinnacle level 40 based on how much you play now.
It would take me 6 years. The final 2 years would be from level 39 to 40. No thanks.
Catching has become harder
For some reason, it actually becomes harder to catch a Pokemon the higher level you are. It’s unclear whether this mechanic has been in the game from the start, or whether Niantic have since patched it in, in order to encourage more Pokeball purchases. Regardless, it seems completely counter intuitive that the more experience you have, the more difficult it becomes to catch a Pokemon. The opposite should be true, and indeed is the case in the core games Go is drawing from.
It only compounds the frustration when a lv10 Pidgey runs away after 10 unsuccessful Great Balls when you’re chasing the experience-demanding higher levels.
Gyms – let me take them over
It’s a small thing but a big annoyance. When you defeat a gym, there’s a small window when the gym becomes ‘free’ once it’s been defeated. You have to quickly click on it and place a Pokemon in it to claim it as your own.
What;s annoying is that any other player who sees the gym become free can do that too, in that small window. Even though they did nothing to defeat it! This happens a lot in more crowded areas, and is a major annoyance – enough to put me off challenging for gyms, which is a major feature in the late-game.
Everything’s a grind
Your Pokemon don’t gain experience or strength by fighting. instead you have to feed them candy, which you obtain by catching other Pokémon of that variety, and then transferring them to the professor. It’s an odd system, and a frustrating one when you’re catching 100 Gastlys to empower your Gengar. That’s on top of the 150 Gastly candies needed to evolve Gengar in the first place… it gets old.
What’s also annoying is the fact that the most efficient way of gaining XP is by ‘Pidgey farming’ i.e. catch 4 Pidgeys, evolve to a Pidgeotto, rinse and repeat. The game should reward and encourage strengthening your team and catching/evolving new and exotic types, not farming birds.
One of my favourite features initially was the egg hatching system. It was great hatching an egg after a 5k walk.
What isn’t great is the fact that the GPA tracking system is incredibly flawed. Instead of acting like a pedometer, it pings back your location every 10 seconds, meaning corners aren’t accounted for. Annoying.
Also At level 23 I’m yet to receive a 10k egg. What’s that all about Niantic?
Battery and open-only
This game devours battery life more than any other app I have ever used.
Worse, it only tracks my steps when the app is open and I’m staring at it. Why? Why Niantic? let me have it on in the background and I’ll always keep it open.
The best thing about the game when it launched was the three-step tracking system. Pokemon close to you would have one footprint, two if they were farther, and three if they were yet farther. It made hunting them down fun and doable, walking in a direction either made footprints diminish or increase.
Niantic initially removed the tracker altogether citing server struggled, which was fair enough, but it made the game less enjoyable. The the tracker returned and…it wasn’t the same. At all. Pokemon appear in order of their closeness, but that’s it. No ‘hotter or colder’ indication. Niantic said the original “wasn’t in line with their vision for the game”. Despite the vast majority of fans begging for it. Bizarre.
Where are the new features?
Finally, I’ve reached a point now where there isn’t anything new to do in the game. It isn’t actually very feature-rich, beyond catching, evolving, gym battling and farming Pidgeys. And the more you play, the rarer a new level or new Pokemon sighting becomes, meaning its all more of the same.
Where is the trading? The battling? Hell, any interaction with other players would be welcome at this point. Niantic need to do something drastic soon, or the dwindling of the numbers will almost certainly continue.