By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Niantic Inc is rolling out a new update to Pokémon GO and by now, most players should have it. As much as I often think of stop playing this game, this latest revision has my interest. In trying it out, my feelings are mixed about the ‘new features.’
I love the fact that the medals finally mean something (players get a better chance to capture pocket monsters from a particular type) and the gym your team occupies can be trained up easier. Instead of using one gladiator, you can now bring in six. The big news is in the fact the game will balance the combat power so these fights are fair. It works, but I am bugged that all my little warriors need a revive crystal before they are usable again. There was a time they simply fainted and only heals were needed. In fights at rival gyms, to use the said item makes sense, but when fighting your own? I wish Niantic brought back this feature.
The game has worn itself out because the developers of this game have not considered how to balance the game for everyone. All their baby steps in adding features and not fixing broken ones (a working tracker that functions more like a radar) are not helping players of this game. As for why I’m continuing, I’m in too deep to really stop. I will work on filling my Pokédex but as for gyms, I no longer have the enthusiasm or energy to take any gym down myself. Paul Tassi of Forbes Magazine wrote an excellent editorial about why the team I’m in sucks. Kotaku looks at the Twitterverse as to how few the numbers are. As much as I like to switch allegiances, I’m sure the move will alienate me further from a few folks I sort of play this game with. Given how few the numbers are for Team Instinct, if a group lives fairly close to each other, shouldn’t all the nearby members band together (despite a few trivial conflicts) instead of kick the nerd out? That’s the position I’m currently in and I do not like it.
And there are also the power gamers have really killed the joy of playing Pokémon GO for me. Maybe in 2017, the game might see enough changes to emulate what I enjoyed from the original games, manga and television series. In what I do not like about this “version” is in the fact Niantic is letting these dedicated players continue to have their best Pokémon roost in Level 10 gyms. One look, and I know they are hard to take down. Aside from the daily cap which limits the rewards, I have learned from other players (who obviously have more time playing this game than I) can have their Pokémon occupy as many gyms as they like in hopes to get the maximum rewards. In the back of my mind, I’m asking how is this fair? How can other players from their team even get a chance to find a gym to stand guard in?
Today, I explored beyond my regular sphere and found no space to even put a pocket monster in. When considering most gyms are defended by “the big three” — a Snorlax, Dragonite or Lapras — not every player is going to be aware of the needed tactics to take them down. There will be some who will be using brute force to fight. I belong to the latter where I’m forced to alternate my days to either stockpiling the resources I need for solo missions (the folks I used to play with have moved on too) or hunting for pocket monsters strong enough to help me fight at gyms. I am not progressing as fast as those power
Today, I explored beyond my regular sphere and found no space to even put a pocket monster in. When considering most gyms are defended by “the big three” — a Snorlax, Dragonite or Lapras — not every player is going to be aware of the needed tactics to take them down. There will be some who will be using brute force to fight. I belong to the latter where I’m forced to alternate my days to either stockpiling the resources I need for solo missions (the folks I used to play with have moved on too) or hunting for pocket monsters strong enough to help me fight at gyms. I am not progressing as fast as those power gamers.
I have suggested this idea before — Niantic’s think tank for this game really should implement a feature to limit the total number of Pokémon from a single player that can be inserted into a gym. To have more is beneficial for those lazy to go retake a gym, but to have more than 12 pocket monsters occupying gyms and not giving other players a chance to partake is ridiculous! I have seen one particular player occupy two municipalities and I’m wondering if this person has a life? This individual is obviously driving around to take as many gyms (either during the job as a courier delivery person or something) and I ask how much has he spent in gas just to obtain ‘free’ coins? If that money was directly put to buy coins from Niantic, I’m sure there’s more value in that than the opposite. Some folks might not be thinking their way through which is cheaper in the long run. $75 in gas buys far more coins in the game instead of the other way around. The only difference is no stardust is earned.
As much as I like to see the game automatically kick the top tier Pokémon out after a few days to allow other players have a chance, the likelihood of that change in the game is not likely to happen anytime soon. If Niantic is listening, please consider adding this feature to balance the game so it can be enjoyed by players of all levels. Everyone should have a brief chance (without having to totally fight level 6 or higher gym) to be King of the Hill and earn a tiny bit of coin/stardust.
Not every new or low-level player has the ability to defeat mega powered up gyms. I’m still suspicious of how a lot of players have one or all of the big three; while some are legitimate, I wonder how many players have bought their gladiators from cheating services like Buygopokemon.com (note: given how tough it is to find a Snorax or Lapras, to see them at a CP2800 or more after levelling up must mean multiples have been encountered through online maps). At least with all the apps and websites showing locations of where they are down, the playing field is a bit more even. People doing shoutouts on social media about sightings is one thing, but tracking services (as controversial as they are) is another.
I feel this company is bound to lose more players who see challenging gyms fruitless. With nights getting longer, colder and wetter, not everyone is going to be wanting to head out to find gyms they can easily handle (solo). There will be more players in cars than walking and I do not believe that is what the game developers had in mind for what this mobile game represents. When considering not everyone is coordinating painting a town in their favourite team colour, just why the same group of power players has complete control gets sickening after a while.
To say, “I feel blue,” is because to attempt to gain in-game rewards in a dog eat dog mobile game is very depressing.