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4 Ways Nintendo (NTDOY) Can Improve Pokemon Go

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Pokémon Go is a megahit, and that’s probably an understatement.  Millions of people around the world have downloaded the app, and it looks like the mobile game’s popularity is on track to surpassing the number of daily active users on Twitter (TWTR - Free Report) , according to data from SimilarWeb.

The game allows you to catch Pokémon all over the real world, and this is a feature which enthusiasts have been looking forward to for a very long time.  It’s no wonder why the game has such a huge following, and while the goal of becoming a Pokémon master is now pursuable, Pokémon Go still has a long way to go before it meets the demands of fans around the world.  If Nintendo (NTDOY - Free Report) wants to grow its user base for its viral app, it will have to make these four changes so that people can live out the dream they have been fantasizing about for over two decades.

Catching Pokémon

You use a Poke ball to catch Pokémon in the mobile app.  In other games and TV shows though, you have to actually face off in a battle against Pokémon to catch them.  This makes the experience more rewarding, and it actually gives people something to brag about.  As the game stands, you just flick a Poke ball at the Pokémon and feed it berries until it stays in the ball.  How boring! 

As the game is right now, catching Pokémon doesn’t require any skill.  It only demands time and effort by going from one place to another.  Searching for Pokémon and capturing them are two halves of a whole, so the game developers will have to find a way to make the catching experience more fulfilling.

Social

If there’s one negative word that sums up Pokémon Go, that word is LONELY.  You can’t see other players on your map, and while this may violate privacy rights, one should at least have the option to make their location available for friends and fellow Pokémon trainers to see.  The game has the potential to bring a lot of people together, and Nintendo could find a lot of growth from embracing a social networking aspect to the game. 

As of right now, the only way to see other people and their username is at a Pokémon gym.  There’s not much point in this though, since you can’t even add or chat with friends.  As of right now, the gaming aspects definitely make for a lonely experience.  It will be interesting to see how the game makers address this issue going forward.

Difficulty

If you haven’t been to a Pokémon gym yet, you’re in for a rude awakening.  It can be very hard to take over a gym, especially if you are at a lower level with less playing experience.  There is a lot of satisfaction that comes with taking over a rival gym, but the bar is already so high for trying to beat maxed out Pokémon at the various gym locations. 

Niantic should implement a tier system for gyms so that people at a lower level can face Pokémon which are at lower levels as well.  This way, players of all ranges can have a good time, regardless of how casual or competitive they are. 

Additionally, it might be nice to have more opportunities for players at a lower level to gain experience points faster so that they may catch up to everyone else.  Nintendo should definitely consider offering time frames where people at a lower level can gain more experience.  This will help in leveling the playing field and competitive disparity, which is already very prevalent amongst app users.      

Battling

Outside of catching Pokémon in real life, Pokémon battles are probably the biggest feature which gamers were looking forward to.  After downloading the app though, this experience has proven to be a major letdown.  The only place you can use your Pokémon to fight is at a gym.  Everywhere else is free of combat since you just flick a Poke ball to catch new Pokémon.  Many people don’t live very close to a Pokémon gym either, so this makes it even harder to put your Pokémon to the ultimate test. 

When you do battle at a gym, the mechanics are pretty messy.  You swipe left and right to try and dodge the gym leader’s attacks, but the app still doesn’t collaborate your timing of swiping and dodging very well.  You can attack by tapping your Pokémon, and a special attack can be activated by holding your finger down on the screen.  That’s all there is to battling in the app so far, and it doesn’t require much skill at all since there is not much variety in what you can do.  Previous Pokémon games on Game Boy took a lot more skill and patience.  In Pokémon Go, it seems as though battles are often determined by what level your Pokémon is, so it is very hard to overcome unfavorable odds.

Bottom Line

It is very cool to see Pokémon in the real world through one’s camera, and walking around with Pokémon in their pockets gives fans a lot of joy.  While the app has exceeded expectations across several levels, it still needs to make up for where it falls short.  There are some features which need to be tweaked so that the game can incorporate more battles and a higher amount of skill utilization. 

Most importantly, the game creators need to work on creating a platform which allows players to interact with each other.  After all, there’s no point in “catching them all” if there’s no way to experience the game with others.  Ash had Brock, Misty, and several other companions on his journey, and fans deserve to have the same opportunity to live out their fantasies in becoming Pokémon masters with their friends.

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