The party line (by which I mean the pop culture line) on Pokémon Go is that it's dead. Everyone played it for five minutes a year ago and then gave up. That hasn't really been my experience. We're not talking about MySpace here.
I play Pokémon Go daily. I've explained previously how I essentially work at a Pokéstop. It makes it far too easy for me to sit and score points and items all day while I'm at work. Considering you get 50 XP and a minimum of three items per spin, and you can spin every five minutes, in the average work day I'm scoring somewhere a tad south of 4800 XP and 288 items a day. That's before I've even caught my first Poke of the day.
So my perspective may be a bit skewed, because I essentially keep the app open 8 hours a day. But judging by how rapidly gyms turn over and fill up with Pokes, I can tell I'm not the only one playing. And considering I work on a closed Navy base, I assume that my experience is a bit on the meager side in terms of players as well.
I think the common wisdom that Pokémon is dead is due to the fact that it ballooned out tremendously at first, then contracted over the course of a year to a more sustainable size. We're still talking about one of the biggest games in the world, but since it's suddenly not the biggest game of all time anymore, people are dismissive of it. Such is life.
So for those of you who have given up already, you may not know that Pokémon Go recently underwent a massive change. Gym battles have been completely revamped.
The way the original gym battles worked was that one of the three Pokémon teams (red, blue, or yellow) could claim a gym. Then up to ten team members could stash an individual Poke in the gym. (So much as I may have wanted to pack a gym with ten of my own Pokes, I was always limited to one.)
When an enemy team attacked your gym, they gradually wore away the gym's capacity to hold Pokes until it was empty. Then they could claim it.
When a friendly team mate attacked a gym, he could drive up the gym's capacity to hold Pokes up to a maximum of ten.
Now, as for the battle itself, it consisted of three controls: simple attack, dodge, and complex attack. Complex attack happened when you had successfully conducted a certain number of simple attacks in order to fill a gauge. Then you could depress the screen and execute a complex attack. The only problem being if the enemy Poke was also attempting to execute his complex attack at the same time, you were stuck standing still.
So here's how literally every single gym battle went:
Tap tap tap tap tap depress tap tap tap tap tap depress tap tap dodge tap tap tap depress
And so on.
With the recent update the controls haven't changed very much. Animation has changed massively, though (your Pidgey now looks infinitesimal compared to a Gyarados) and a sort of showdown poster pops up before every battle reflecting the stats of the competing Pokes.
Gyms now contain a max of six Pokes, and there is no need for friendly fighting to make that possible. That makes me a sad panda because I used to spend countless hours every day friendly fighting. Now if my team has a gym, we just have it. The only time I get to wear out useless Pokes is when I can find an enemy gym.
Pokes who sit in gyms also gradually get depressed. Their combat power slowly degrades over the course of a day. A friendly player can now give out berries to combat waning morale. This is a mild positive for me because I used to just immediately throw out every Nanab berry I got, being the most useless of all berries, to make space for my 200-odd items a day. Now I can actually do something with my Nanab berries, and feeding berries comes with a very small stardust bonus. And stardust is always in demand.
Now, as Pokes get depressed from either sitting there or getting beaten (or even just engaged in combat) their CP gradually degrades. So when I go to fight an enemy gym, it may start out with, say, 6 enemy Pokes at 2000 CP apiece. Then I go in for the slaughter and they're all reduced to 1000 CP apiece. Which means now I can use difference Pokes. It's like a battle against a different Poke every time, as opposed to the old system where it just felt like I was fighting that same 2883 Blissey over and over and over and over again.
Now the worst part of the change is the new coin system. Under the old system, when you had a Poke in a gym, at a certain time every day you could claim 10 coins on his behalf, up to 100 coins. So if you had Pokes in 10 gyms, you were golden. The time decreased by three hours every day, which did lead to very awkward issues where my alarm was waking up my girlfriend at 3:00 am and it was a bit embarrassing to say why.
I'm not a big fan of the new coin system. It, like the fact that you can't friendly fight anymore, encourages a lot more changeover of gyms. The way it works is now that your Poke collects a coin for every ten minutes it spends in a gym. You can collect a maximum of 50 coins a day. And coins are only collected when the Poke returns to you.
So the pro: I don't have to worry about checking in at a certain time every day. Coins just come when the come.
The many cons: there's no way to predict when your Poke will come back to you! You could put ten Pokes in ten gyms and they could all sit there for a month, all get beaten on the same day, and you collect: 50 coins.
I mean, it's positive from the sense you don't have to wait 21 hours every day. Having a Poke in a gym for just a few hours means you'll collect. But it's a waste to keep a Poke in any gym for more than eight and a half hours. So that battling bastard of a Blastoise you've had tucked away in one spot for almost a week? Congratulations, he's worth 50 coins when all is said and done.
Basically, it encourages you to go around and constantly be fighting to put Pokes into gyms. Or else pay real money for coins, which I'm sure is the real goal here.
Anyway, I've blathered on long enough. Are you still playing Pokemon? What do you think of all the recent changes? What do you miss and what do you wish they would just adjust?
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
Enter your e-mail address in the box below and click "Subscribe" to join Stephen Kozeniewski's Mailing List for Fun and Sexy People. (Why the hell would anyone ever want to join a mailing list?)