Pokémon GO Is Broken. Here’s How To Fix It…
Recent Pokémon GO developments have inspired me to try the app again… Turns out it’s still as broken as I remember it.
And no, this isn’t server troubles, like what plagued the game’s recent festival. In a better world, I should be happy that even though the initial storm of excitement has subsided, Niantic continue to grow from strength to strength with a fully featured app. However, it’s a victim of mistaken identity that threatens future audience adoption and retention of current fans.
You see, the issue with Pokémon GO sounds simple, but goes much deeper below the surface. It’s trying to be a video game when it’s really much more than that – a “hybrid reality” game (coining a term) that complements your current daily life.
Niantic’s mistaken identity means the experience is inconvenient at best, and fundamentally broken at worst. And I have a solution…or three.
Actually work in the background
A hybrid reality game like Pokémon GO needs to be compatible with your life, providing engaging gameplay when you have time to engage while melting into the background for the remainder.
We’ve all had a good laugh & joke about the crippling battery life and the fact you can’t run it in the background, but it’s not funny anymore.
A smartphone with all its bells and whistles (27, going on 54 here with my choice of phrases) may not be a life requirement, but some sort of functioning telecommunications device is for emergency circumstances.
Running a game that needs a portable battery pack to maintain power for is just insane. And the fact you can’t run GO in the background is hostile to the consumer. Now I know, part of this comes down to iOS deactivating key features of apps when you go back to the home screen or another app. But I’m sure if anyone has the influence to make this a reality, it would be one of the biggest smartphone developers out there…
Automate parts of the game
Once again, I’m going to sound like an old man from the get go, but allow me a minute to explain – dear reader.
I once read a study that found the majority of millennials spend the majority of their commute looking at a phone screen. Thinking of this in reference to my own experience, it’s 100% true, but limited to short stints of engagement (a response to the Whatsapp group, picking the right podcast on Spotify and the occasional Snapchat story if I’m feeling particularly narcissistic).
Inject Pokémon GO into that mix and those stints begin to lengthen, as you watch your screen and walk towards Pokéstops for items + XP. This, in my experience, has resulted in a couple of trip ups on the pavement, bumping into the general public and (for one unfortunate friend of mine) a near miss with a passing car.
Now the last one, that’s just a woeful lack of common sense and he was promptly mocked for his idiocy. But the other two prove how this required level of interaction is far too immersive for what should be a game that blends into your daily life.
Please, Niantic, on behalf of the many more players injured while fighting the good fight, please automate the game functions, we’ve come to know and arduously deal with for the last year. Start by automating Pokéstop check-ins.
Need proof this is a problem? As of writing this article, 14 deaths and 55 injuries have been reported on... Emphasis on "reported on," as in there could be more.
Strip back the functionality
This is a “hybrid reality” game, not an actual Pokémon RPG where I could sit down and focus on the multiple goals. But the overwhelming level of functionality does not reflect that at all.
I know I'm not the smartest tool in the shed, but plenty more people than me won't be able to keep up with catching Pokémon, transferring Pokémon, checking into Pokéstops, scrapping items to collect more, looking out for (and taking part in) raids, attacking gyms, and so on & so forth, all while walking and being observant of your surroundings.
It’s impossible for me and my lack of multi-tasking knowhow to comprehend it all while dealing with a walk to work. Speaking to my girlfriend, I’m aware this one could just be me – as she spoke of appreciating the “admin” side of Pokémon GO.
Completely subjective, but eliminate the “admin.” Not just to annoy her, but for the safety of simple-minded folk like me.
Want more Pokémon GO content? Check out my Pokémentary below - documenting launch weekend hype!