The rise and fall of ‘Pokémon Go’

“Pokémon Go’s” company, Niantic, did a lot of things right in the beginning. Niantic generated a lot of interest and hype for the game, resulting in an explosion of 45 million people playing upon release of the game. With the huge player base — “Pokémon Go” generated $600 million in revenue within the first 90 days.

The parks and other Pokémon-dense areas were flooded with people. So much so that some areas attempted to restrict people from playing the game. In Des Moines, Washington, the community requested Niantic remove the Pokémon stops (locations in the game that are linked to places in real life, which attract Pokémon) from the Des Moines Marina. Federal Way also posted notices at the parks, stating that playing “Pokémon Go” was prohibited. While other places, particularly churches and some businesses, encouraged the traffic by offering promotions and welcoming players.

Since Niantic released “Pokémon Go” before it was ready, it caused the app to crash frequently. In the beginning players didn’t mind and avidly continued playing through the hardships. But Niantic began to release updates that players didn’t like. For example, a tracking feature was removed with the only explanation being that it was ‘broken.’ Secondary sites stepped up to provide a tracking feature, but Niantic went after those companies and told them to cease operations. Since tracking was still unavailable in the game, players began requesting refunds and “Pokémon Go” started losing players in droves.

Niantic continued with decisions that resulted in a loss of players, as rooted phones were blocked to prevent cheating, and an annoying pop-up asking you to confirm that you are a passenger was introduced in the game. Additionally, Niantic reduced the spawn rates of Pokémon and implemented speed caps, making it more difficult to play on the ‘Go.’ They also left their players in the dark for the future of the game. Instead of fixing known issues, Niantic focused on rolling out their broken game to other regions.

Now they are trying to remedy their losses — but for many, the effort is too little too late. In their attempt to attract players, they have made several updates allowing players to have a Pokémon as a ‘buddy,’ which benefits from distances walked with the buddy. Niantic’s most recent push was to create events for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. These events upped the spawn rates of certain Pokémon, gave increased benefits and made the game fun to play again for the duration of the events.

Even with the events, the majority of people who left the game did not go back to playing “Pokémon Go.” The parks are practically empty of Pokémon players, and they are continuing to lose players left and right. While they still make a tidy profit — the future of “Pokémon Go” doesn’t look bright.