As I walk from the coffee shop back to my apartment I hear that sound. I pull my phone out of my pocket in tense anticipation only to be disappointed once again. Another Drowzee. I select it anyway and commence with the tossing of poke balls at the annoying little creature, hoping to make it stop generating that grating noise it makes as it dances around the screen and knocks my poke balls out of the way. three regular balls and three super balls later the Drowzee has run away and I’m left standing in a parking lot looking at least slightly foolish and feeling let down. Which raises the question: is Pokémon Go not fun anymore?
The dog days of summer — or should that read Pokémon days — are long behind us, thanksgiving has come and gone, and Halloween makes its approach. Pokémon Go, the “it” game of the summer that caused crowds of people to mass in downtown areas throwing lures at clusters of pokes tops and battling for control of popular gyms, is so far underground it might not even make an appearance in the ultimate pop culture test of relevance, Halloween costumes. Last year I dressed completely irrelevantly as a Pokémon trainer, complete with poke balls and a stuffed pikachu backpack acquired in years past at a comic book convention. This year I’d have to do the zombie version, and then still explain my costume. “I’m Pokémon Go. See? I’m dead!”
It’s hard to believe that a few short months ago in mid-July, smartphone owners were so desperate to have the app that they crashed servers attempting to download it as soon as it was released in Canada and had to be put in download queues to prevent further server errors. In less than three months, Pokémon Go went from one of the most popular apps in Canada to…well, what did it end up as? On the apple App Store, Pokémon Go is still a surprisingly relevant 53rd place in the top free apps chart, beating apps like Linkedin (73), Amazon (57), Grindr (76th), and even Starbucks (88th). To get a sense of how good this actually is, there are about two million apps in the App Store most of the time. As far as top grossing apps go, Pokémon Go is second. The only app to beat it is Game of War: Fire Age. IGN reported this month that the game is making over $2 million a day, even with the “hype” for the app slowing down.
Maybe Pokémon Go isn’t as dead as everyone says it is. Though a lot of North American players seem to have let the game gom, the game has only just become available in many countries. The last update on the Niantic website on October 4 added 31 more countries to the game, and before that 11 other countries were added on September 29 and 30.
As of Oct. 16, Pokémon Go has updated for everyone, removing Pokémon spawns and sightings if players are traveling too fast. Anyone playing while they drive, or while they’re a passenger, or has found themselves laying in bed trying to catch a random Pokémon in their room and had the game tell them they are somehow “going too fast,” might find this to be off-putting, though it was likely intended as a safety feature. The update did, however, add several other features including bonuses for players who have caught a large number of a certain type of Pokémon. Niantic says players who have received medals for Pokémon catches will find it easier to catch that type in the future. Hopefully this will not mean more drowzees because of the hundreds you’ve already caught.
It is difficult to say who is still playing Pokémon Go. With Niantic still making so much money from it and continuously updating, there must be more people than those who admit it. $2 million per day is not exactly pocket change, and with a new tracking feature in the works to help players find those difficult-to-catch Pokémon, maybe players will come flocking back to the game once played in large groups on public property.