2016 will see the 20th anniversary of Pokemon and the release of 'Pokemon Go!' which could herald the end of the game we know and love.
If you were born in the nineties then Pokemon probably was a part of your childhood, it was for me. I used to spend many afternoons with my mates in the back-garden pretending to be a Pokémon Trainer, claiming that my cat was a Meowth and that when a plane went over-head it was a Dragonair. These roleplaying memories come back to me today as Pokemon nears its twentieth anniversary. 2016 will be a big year for the Pokemon franchise, and with plans for film releases, new main series games and some huge events it may prove to the biggest boost to the fan base since the start of the sixth generation, Pokemon X and Y, but there is something else looming over the horizon, Pokemon Go!
Watch the Pokemon Go! trailer:
Looks amazing right? Like the digital version of those sunny back-garden boy’s adventures. Unfortunately, the trailer you just watched only gives us less than three-seconds of actually gameplay, that bit right at the end that we’re not meant to pay attention to. The rest of the trailer is simply showing us what it would by like if Pokemon was in the real-world. However, Pokemon isn’t in the real world and no augmented-reality app is going to change that in a way that will ever live up to our expectation. No current technology can recreate the battle between Mewtwo and the Trainers in Time Square, and the three vs three Pokemon battles would never be able to run as smoothly, even on a computer with a terrabyte hard drive. Essentially, the game is going to be nothing like the trailer, at its core the Niantic’s Pokemon Go is just another freemium game.
If you’ve never heard of the freemium concept you probably still have played a freemium game, the App Stores are littered with them. It’s basically a free game that gets you hooked with low wait times for items necessary for the game then wait time that slowly increases in as your continue through the game. The game then gives you the option to lower the wait time or to increase the chances of the items usage proving successful by paying money, commonly more money than you would ever spend on a normal game. This means that we are probably going to have to wait for Pokeballs to ‘come into stock at the Pokemart‘ or we are going to have to pay for our Pokemon to have enough energy to battle.
It’s almost embarrassing that Nintendo have decided to pursue this style of gameplay for their new Pokemon game. Nintendo announced a few months ago that they would be looking into mobile gaming, which makes sense because Nintendo have always been strong with their portable gaming platforms. I had hoped they’d have stronger principles than this, or at least enough respect for their diehard fans to avoid exploiting the love of the brand for money. If this selfish business practice isn’t enough to put you off Nintendo there’s Pokemon Go Plus.
Pokemon Go Plus is a Bluetooth accessory for your mobile device that will inform you if your near a Pokemon or a Trainer who you can battle, it can also be pressed to allow you to throw Pokeballs. Owning the device doesn’t seem to get rid of any of the freemium aspects of the game, meaning that it’s just another way for Nintendo to take money from the devoted fan base. Finally, add in the fact that it appears only the original 150 Pokemon will be involved in the game and we have a perfect storm for fan base backlash that will leave the Pokemon franchise not with a new wave of adoring fans, but instead with less fans than ever before. It looks like no one is going to go to Pokemon’s birthday party next year, they will all be too busy waiting for a new shipment of ultra balls.