Pokemon Stop!

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From 754 million downloads to four-fifths of users quitting — what happened?

Pokemon GO was one of the most downloaded games in history. Now, less than one-fifth of the users active in the first year still play this record-shattering app. In a survey conducted with  40 people, 50 percent played Pokemon GO. The game numbered over twice the amount of downloads as there are people in the U.S., but according to Arstechina, only 5.4 million people are still playing daily nowadays.

Pokemon Go grew so fast because of the concept of the game — to get out and about during the warm summer, catching Pokemon on the device of the century: the Smartphone. Because of the social nature of the game, players like Damian Singh, 13, of Herndon, played with their friends. Damian and all of his friends were part of Team Mystic. Often times, they would have fun group PokeHunting, and would often enjoy fighting gyms or putting lures on PokeStops. Damian hasn’t played Pokemon Go since August 2016.

Now? Pokemon Go? Pokemon Go away. In 2016 all people could do was talk about it. Now, people only talk about how dead it is.

“Yeah, I think Pokemon GO is dead,” Damian said.

One main reason is insufficient updates. For a game, there were many updates, but Pokemon GO started basic enough that people reached the end of the game in a month, which wasn’t enough time for Niantic, the developing company for Pokemon GO, to make updates. Many updates were minor, excluding the updates released for Halloween, shiny, Gen 2 & 3 Pokemon and raids.

“I play from time-to-time,” Cameron Wu said, meaning that he plays for a new update, then realizes that it’s bad.

With those updates, millions of players came back, but not enough for it to bounce back to its former glory. About a week after each update, with the players realizing there are no noticeable changes to the game other than the pool of Pokemon, players once again quit.

After the raid update was out for a couple weeks, all people wanted to do were Legendary Raids, which were the strongest raids. The problem with that was that anybody who wanted to come back hit a wall where nobody wanted to do the lower-level raids. Also, many people already left, so not many people heard about it.

“I didn’t even hear about it!” Damian said.

Another reason was the weather. Niantic purposefully released Pokemon GO in the summer when students would be out and about, and the warm weather would be good for exploring the great outdoors. In the winter,  people didn’t want to go outside and started using emulators. This caused Niantic to start banning people. After the winter, Niantic stopped releasing updates, focusing more on the Gen 2 updates, released in November 2017. This is when they lost many players in that six-month span.

One final reason for the loss of players by Pokemon Go is the concept of the game. A fitness based game is just at the end of the day an extension of fitness: people do it for a while, then stop. The game lacks a plotline, and so thus, eventually after people started getting CP 2000+’s and all the Pokemon in the Pokedex, people got bored as there was nothing else to do.

If Niantic had planned much-needed updates sooner, then maybe people would have played through the winter. Then, Pokemon GO could’ve stayed alive. For example, if Pokemon GO had released Gen 2 Pokemon with or soon after the Halloween update, like how Niantic Labs said they would release it in February (which they didn’t because of technical errors and to build up hype) then it is more likely that people might have played through early 2017, allowing Pokemon GO to live on to summer 2017.

However, many people would argue that Pokemon GO isn’t actually dead. As of April 2018, it has 5.4 million daily active users, which is more than most games. Yes, the number has dropped drastically, but it still has millions of players playing the game every single day, which is relatively rare for a game that has only been out for less than two years.

Many people still play Pokemon GO, but they just don’t talk about it as much, since it isn’t a craze. Another hit game, Clash of Clans, has 100 million daily active users even six years after launch. However, when was the last time you heard somebody talk about it? Not since Clash Royale has come out. Now, Pokemon Go has been replaced with the new genre of games on the block: Battle Royale. In the same survey mentioned above, over 82 percent that played quit. While this isn’t true everywhere, it certainly puts everything to scale. However, if you asked around, you will likely find multiple people who still play Pokemon GO.

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