I’ve been gaming for 30+ years and have not seen anything like this.
And it’s not even the game. Pokemon Go as a game is nothing new. Running around with your phone collecting things in the real world has been done…almost to death. And this whole “augmented reality” is pretty crappy given it’s pretty much just a GIF overlay on your camera, not exactly groundbreaking. So nothing about the actual game is spectacular…but it’s Pokemon and that comes with a built-in audience that has been built over 20 years. Without that name, it’s just another game in the App Store dust bin.
Pokemon Go in the Wild
This past weekend, my wife and walked around the trendy part of town where there are shops, art galleries, restaurants…just generally the hip place to go when it’s a nice Saturday night. We were out for our anniversary so just dinner and some wandering, and while that was a wonderful time, what will be more memorable is seeing all the people walking up and down the street with their phones trying to find Pokemon.
It seemed like every third person was attached to their phone looking for monsters. And when I would pass someone with their phone out, I’d do a quick look at their screen and most of the time they had Pokemon Go out, even if they didn’t look like their were playing.
I found this incredible. Never before has a game taken over a society mind quicker. And never has it been more acceptable to play a game so publicly before.
We all play games on our phone but they’re usually “quiet” games that you can play without looking like you’re playing. Earbuds in and play. Done. But here Pokemon Go has people wandering the streets with their phones waving in the air playing a game…and it’s okay. Not only is it okay, it’s not seen as weird.
If you had to play Canabalt or Clash of Clans in a similar manner, people wouldn’t play. Someone would come up and ask, “what are you doing?” and you’d tell them you’re playing Clash of Clans and they’d ruffle a brow and go, “oh. okay.” and move on thinking you’re nuts. But tell them “I’m playing Pokemon” and they’ll react as though that’s normal and probably stop and talk to you about it.
Congrats to Nintendo for the big win. Reports suggest it’s helped their value and hopefully shown them that taking Nintendo franchises to the mobile phone space is well worth the effort and investment. While I’m not the biggest Nintendo fan, I’d love to see Metroid or Zelda come to mobile. I might actually play then.
But while I’m praising their business success, I can’t praise the game itself.
It’s a broken game
Pokemon Go is crap.
It’s a perfect example of how to NOT make a game and an even worse experience. But what bothers me more is that people are accepting it. The power of Pokemon is clearly far greater than I could have imagined.
Given the what I had witnessed, I had to give Pokemon Go a try but didn’t get very far. Once the app loaded, it asked me for my Google sign-in. I didn’t want to use my Google sign-in…but there was no way to go back and choose something else, or even see if something else was available. So right there, I gave up. If I can’t log in then I can’t play (another problem).
However, my wife, who is less concerned about using her social accounts for logging in, got Pokemon Go up and running so I tried it on her phone. And again, I was face with all sorts of problems. No directions, no feedback to any action and just generally being difficult to figure out. I mean, if this was any other game without the word “Pokemon” on the front, no one would tolerate this.
Outside of that time with the game, I’ve only heard things. Like that you can’t really fight other people or Pokemons…or if you do, it’s some sort of wimpy tapping game. So what’s the game here? Just collecting? Just wandering your city and bumping into other people also searching?
Pokemon Go seems more like a social experiment than a game. There’s nothing wrong with that, I guess, but I don’t think it will keep people for long, especially casual players. Your Pokemon diehards will play regardless but I don’t think my wife will keep playing long, for example. It’s still a novelty but will she bust out her phone the next time we walk the dog and try to find Pikachu? I don’t think so.
My guess is you’re already playing Pokemon Go. If not, I’d say don’t bother unless you’re Pokemon fan. I don’t think it’s worth the frustration if for no other reason in that I’m still not sure what the pay off is. I’m also certain there are other collect-stuff-in-the-real-world games out there that are made much better and probably more engaging, they just won’t say “Pokemon” on the box.