Pokemon GO

Game Database
Analysis by SpecialKei

Pokemon GO includes your favorite Pokemon in an adventure around a world generated by your surroundings, giving players the real-life ability to catch, train, and fight.

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Commitment Reward
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Gameplay Analysis

Pokemon GO takes your phone’s GPS coordinates and places you on a map littered with virtual Pokemon, Pokestops, and Gyms. Your avatar follows your steps. As you walk around, you’ll come across Pokemon to click on. Clicking on the ones near you to give you a chance to catch it. The catch mechanic involves throwing a ball into a shrinking circle, with bonuses for throwing the ball on a curve and when the circle is at its smallest.

Pokemon Go’s combat mechanic revolves around tapping your screen fast and swiping to dodge. It’s meant to be accessible for players of all ages.  However, the combat has a surprising amount of depth and a strong community involved in developing the best strategies. Moves have varied strengths and weaknesses, and the quick move/charge move interactions are interesting.

Combat is restricted to Gyms. It involves battling defending pokemon from opposing factions until they run out of motivation and leave the gym. In terms of similarity to the Gameboy series, battling has key differences.

  • Pokemon have two moves instead of four

  • Pokemon have three stats(Attack, Defense, Stamina)

  • Combat Power replaces levels and experience

  • Move pool is restricted to attack moves

  • No abilities

  • Limited multiplayer functionality

Nevertheless, almost all of your favorite generation one and two Pokemon are there. Niantic has created a Pokemon game unlike any other; one that allows a player to interact with their environment to catch Pokemon.

Unfortunately, Pokemon GO doesn’t allow you to interact with other players directly in game. Trading and battling in real time isn’t supported, and multiplayer is restricted to fighting alongside players in a raid battle. At best, direct interactions come from rallying friends to do raids with you, or finding out who the person that keeps on taking down your gyms is in real life.

Pokemon GO’s gameplay is satisfying, but leaves you wanting more due to the shallow in-game interactions. Many people bemoan the click-based battle mechanics, but there is something special about getting to catch your own Pokemon.  While people expecting a mobile phone version of the main series Pokemon games may be disappointed by the lack of depth, the simplicity of the elements carried over allow the game to be much more accessible for a broader audience.

Cost Analysis

Pokemon GO has three vital currencies: PokeCoins, Stardust, and Candy.

PokeCoins can be used to buy Pokeballs, revives, and potions. These items are available at Pokestops, a generous source of free items. PokeStop exclusive items include berries, higher tier Pokeballs, Pokemon eggs, and rarely, evolution items. Buying revives, potions, and Pokeballs are generally unnecessary due to how available PokeStops are (you can spin the same one every 5 minutes).

The exclusive things you can buy with PokeCoins are more interesting. You can buy clothing items to personalize your avatar, or exclusive items such as Incense, Incubators, and Lucky Eggs. You earn these when your character levels up in a limited amount. However, none of these items necessarily allow you to get an advantage over a player without them.

The closest Pokemon GO gets to being pay to win is raid passes. Without paying PokeCoins, you can only get one raid pass a day. This limits how many powered-up or legendary Pokemon you could potentially capture. It’s worth mentioning that PokeCoins can be earned through gym battles, and Niantic is known to release “item bundles” during their in-game events.

Stardust is the currency used to increase your Pokemon’s CP(Combat Power) and is earned through catching Pokemon. The cost for strengthening your Pokemon goes up as CP increases. You get bonus Stardust for your first catch of the day, but as it stands now, there aren’t any other mechanics to allow you to gain more Stardust(besides in-game events).

Candies function similarly to Stardust, in that you use them to power up your Pokemon. Evolving or powering up Pokemon costs that specific Pokemon’s Candy, which is obtained through walking with or catching that Pokemon.

Pokemon GO currency is always earnable through in-game mechanics. The limiting factor is your environment; if you’re in an area with few gyms and PokeStops, you’re going to have a very hard time. If you aren’t, playing Pokemon GO without spending any cash is very easy to do.

Aesthetics Analysis

Pokemon has always had a distinct art style that’s stuck with the games through generations. Pokemon GO evolves on that art style by giving players 3D models with clean outlines and a slick user interface.

Pokemon pop up around your avatar while it walks through a stylized blue-green tinted map, crisscrossed by roads and buildings loaded in from GPS. It’s calming and entertaining to watch while the Pokemon pop up on your screen.

Menus are easily navigated and straightforward. It feels like a Pokemon game, but on mobile. Graphical glitches do exist, but aren’t typically game-breaking and are sometimes hilarious.

Commitment Reward Analysis

To keep up with Pokemon GO, booting up the app once a day isn’t necessary. In terms of daily login rewards, you get a bonus for your first PokeStop spin and first catch of the day. After seven consecutive days of spinning a PokeStop, you get a large item bonus and a guaranteed random evolution item.

The evolution item is important to those wanting to catch ‘em all, so having it accessible this way is great. Other than this, commitment to the game is not rewarded significantly in terms of in-game items.

Longevity Analysis

The Pokemon franchise has been around since 1996. There are over 800 Pokemon, and 248 of them are or have been catchable. Generation 2 was added in February 2017, a little over six months after launch. Niantic has been vocal about adding features such as trading, but no timeline for this exists. Niantic’s less popular ARG game, Ingress, is still supported today after half a decade on Android. It can be expected that Pokemon Go has another four years of support ahead of it.

When Pokemon GO hit mobile phones, its popularity was unparalleled. People were clamoring to play the newest Pokemon craze, and it took over mainstream media outlets. Today, the popularity has declined significantly, but the game still remains at the top of the list on the iOS App Store,

The Pokemon franchise is a staple of the video game industry. It will live on in some form for the future. Pokemon Go is only one of the newest Pokemon experiences out there and has been enjoyed by millions. If Niantic doesn’t manage to screw it up and continues to evolve the gameplay interactions, it can have a bright future for another 10 years.

Overall Analysis

Pokemon GO is special; it’s wish fulfillment at its finest. The game gives you the coveted experience of walking around and catching Pokemon. Niantic has morphed the original Pokemon video game series into a mobile game with depth and a strong community. Its metagame and community is accessible whether or not you want to spend money. With many generations of Pokemon games to draw from, the game isn’t going to run out of content anytime soon.

Comparing it to other F2P mobile games, there are two important mechanics that are lacking: a more rewarding log-in bonus/event schedule, and multiplayer functionality.

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