ByJeremy Barnes, writer at
Bill Shakespeare once wrote that we can only reach true happiness through the guidance of Sonic the Hedgehog and that robot from Halo.
Jeremy Barnes

I don't think it would be a stretch to say that Pokémon GO had one of the most successful launches of any game in recent memory. In just a week's time, Nintendo's most recent foray into the mobile market has nearly leapfrogged Twitter in number of active daily users and has added nearly $10 billion dollars to their estimated total worth.

If Nintendo can capture even a fraction of this enthusiasm for any of their future mobile titles, they could be swimming in a pool of gold coins that would make Scrooge McDuck blush.

Despite Pokémon GO's colossal success, I am a bit underwhelmed

As a big fan of the core Pokémon games and the competitive battling scene, Pokémon GO seemed empty; Pokémon GO lacks any sort of trade system, the complex stat system has been nixed, and the turn-based battle system has been swapped out for carpal tunnel inducing tapping sequences.

It still has all of the original characters that we're all familiar with, but without all of the core features that I was familiar with I didn't have much interest. I didn't really understand why Pokémon GO was as big a hit as it was, considering how I felt about it.

But here's the thing, Pokémon GO really isn't for me, or for hardcore fans of the core Pokémon games either; it was made for a much wider audience, one perhaps less acquainted with EV's, IV's, and youngster Joey's top-tier Rattata.

Pokémon GO is more about capturing the fun we had with Pokémon as kids, with harboring discovery and, most of all, former social bonds through video games. Because PokéStops and gyms are tied to physical locations, players will inevitably end up running into other Pokémon GO players looking to take down the local gym leader or squatting near a lure in an attempt to catch a rare Pokémon. The actual game mechanics may be relatively shallow, but the social bonds that the game facilitates are relatively strong.

Pokémon GO isn't a core entry in the series and shouldn't be treated as one

We don't judge Pokémon Snap for lacking sophisticated battle mechanics and we certainly don't judge Hey You, Pikachu! for having an overabundance of Pikachu. Pokémon GO definitely has it's problems (server issues being just one example), but haters and skeptics like me should just accept it for what it is and praise it for what it's doing right, not judge it so harshly for what it's not trying to be.

Pokémon GO players, photo credit to reddit user Paddy32
Pokémon GO players, photo credit to reddit user Paddy32

For all of the deeper gameplay mechanics that the game is lacking, Pokémon GO makes up for in spades with it's ability to breed social interaction. It's that shared experience of catching and battling Pokémon that's making this thing such a huge success. Hopefully in the future developer Niantic fleshes out some of the trading and battling mechanics, but for now I think both Niantic and Nintendo deserve some praise for Pokémon GO.

It may not be for me, but I think the millions of people playing right now would vehemently disagree with me.

What do you think? Are you loving Pokémon GO, or are you a big hater just like me?


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