Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pokémon GO! - My Cautious Optimism


Nintendo and The Pokémon Company International, along with the creators if Ingress, have announced a new pokémon game coming to mobile Android and iOS devices in 2016. This game, Pokémon GO,  is an augmented reality game similar to the Pokémon Dream Radar for 3DS and in another aspect, it's also similar to the PokéWalker for HeartGold and SoulSilver. The additional accessory, the Pokémon GO Plus, alerts you when you're near a pokémon via a rumbling feature and LED light. This means you don't have to stare at your phone the whole time. Essentially, the game let's you go to real world locations to battle, trade, and capture pokémon. Hypothetically, it sounds great. I'm not yet 100% convinced though. I'll admit, the main thing holding me back is that it is "Free to start". 

Microtransactions have always bugged me. I'd prefer to pay outright rather than deal with microtransactions. With pokémon games, I often log hundreds of hours playing a particular game. For example, I have logged over 999 hours in Pokémon Y since it came out a couple years ago. That only cost me $35 - 40.

In terms of Pokémon GO, I feel like microtransactions would hamper my play time. It would make the most sense that, like other "Free to start" games, you would be given some starter resources and then after playing for a couple minutes would be required to wait until the resources replenished themselves. In Pokémon GO, which allows you to capture pokémon, I would assume those resources would be pokéballs. If that is the case, what happens when you run out of pokéballs? Most likely you would get a prompt to buy more with real cash or have to just run away from the pokémon you are trying to catch and wait for your pokéballs to be replenished. That seems awful frustrating. I'd also assume that getting rarer pokéballs (Great, Ultra, etc) would require you purchase them. If you are attempting to get even 150 pokémon, that could get pricey.

It's not all bad though. If the microtransactions are reasonable, or handled well, then it could be a huge success. I had initially worried about Pokémon Shuffle and Pokémon Rumble, but I did eventually break down and download them and so far I'm happy with them. Although the microtransactions have hampered how much I play them, I have been able to play them for a good bit for free. I've gotten farther in Pokémon Shuffle than Rumble, primarily because the resources are better handled. Essentially, I can play more with just the free resources in Shuffle than in Rumble. If I spend roughly $30 over the course of these kinds of games and can still get a good bit of enjoyment out of them, then I'm happy. If this game is compatible with main series games, like the PokéWalker and Dream Radar were, then I'll gladly drop some coin on them. Currently, that isn't known, but there have been hints of some sort of compatibility.

  • Pros: 
    • You can capture pokémon "in real life".
    • The graphics look nice.
    • It does have battle and trade features.
    • The Pokémon GO Plus alerts you when you're near a pokémon, so you don't have to stare at your phone the whole time.
  • Cons:
    • Microtransactions
    • It's currently unknown how this game works with main series games.
    • Most likely has some sort of resource time limit.
    • Currently appears to only showcase Gen 1 pokémon.