By: Jason Smith ~Staff Writer~
At one point in every Pokémon Go player’s life, the question gets asked, “Why am I playing this?” After an initial wave of hype and media saturation, America’s love affair with virtual, mobile Pokémon has ended.
When the game first arrived, it was beset with bugs and crashes. Add to that Nintendo’s frustrating profile creation system, and the game seemed doomed. However, it didn’t fail. In fact, it succeeded better than anything Nintendo has recently done.
The surge of hype shot up Nintendo’s stock price, which promptly came crashing down when it was discovered Nintendo hadn’t developed it. Google developer Niantic made the game, which originally started as an April Fool’s joke.
Then there were the media coverage and YouTube videos of waves of people trying to catch a Vapereon in Central Park and stories of people getting hit by or crashing cars while playing. Pokémon Go suddenly took on a feeling of being dangerous, but still the hype didn’t subside.
I remember walking my dog in my old neighborhood and seeing random people attempting to catch Pokémon. This game had become part of life.
Then one day, it wasn’t. It happened both overnight and gradually, but people began drifting away from it. The problem was that Pokémon Go isn’t a fully featured Pokémon game. It lacks all the features of a regular Pokémon game. It favors the player who spends money on resources to catch Pokémon.
Another problem the game faces is the limited amount of Pokémon in each area. If you have the means to travel around a city to catch a rarer Pokémon across town, you might “catch ‘em all.” However, this game that caught the country by storm has seemingly tapered off into the gimmick phase of its lifespan.
The developer Niantic says that the game has legs and wants to continue to add new features, but the audience present at the launch is no longer there. Instead what is left are the loyalists, a much smaller crowd. One is left to question the rest of Nintendo’s mobile game strategy from here on out.
When Nintendo finally admitted that they needed to make mobile games and accordingly designed their first two offerings, it was both disappointing and great. Mitomo was a failed social experiment and Pokémon GO a huge success. Next up for Nintendo is Super Mario Run a side scrolling game that will probably help their bottom line. Plus, Pokémon Sun and Moon are on the way, which are going to help keep Nintendo afloat until the Switch launches. However, in the long run, Nintendo will fight for relevancy.
This goes back to the root of Nintendo’s ills: they aren’t a nimble gaming company. They are set in their ways. They delay big games over and over. Their fans are starved for something new, and yet Nintendo prefers to give them the silent treatment. In many ways, Nintendo is the last of the old guard of gaming and they no longer hold the sway with people like they used to. This is the problem with Pokémon Go — it isn’t even a Nintendo-developed game.
Where Pokémon Go and Nintendo evolve from here is a question that begs to be answered. Eventually, the dead-enders will quit the game, but what will happen to Nintendo? In the next few years, Nintendo’s fate hangs in the balance.
Gamers favor Nintendo going third party like Sega did, which would be great for the industry. Nintendo could just fade into obscurity, but its franchises are on par with Disney.
Many hope that the company survives. There is whole host of childhood dreams waiting to be virtualized.