Following the frenzy that Apple caused with their keynote yesterday, game developer Niantic Labs, best known for their creation of
soul-sucking app Pokemon GO, announced in a press release that they will be releasing a wristwatch-like device (which can also be pinned to your bag, etc) called Pokemon GO Plus. The device would cost US$34.99.
What it does basically, is to light up and vibrate whenever there are Pokemon or PokeStops nearby, and the wearer will simply need to press a button to catch a Pokemon or collect items from a Stop.
Niantic states that the introduction of the device will “eliminate the need to take the phone out of the pocket or look at smartphone screens continuously while playing the game”, something which has been touted by many as the most dangerous aspect of the game.
It would be available to “most countries” by next Friday, 16 September, which is also the date that the highly-anticipated iPhone 7 will be released.
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The double whammy?
Pokemon GO players would also be able to play the game on their Apple Watch by the end of the year, which pretty much eliminates the need for the Plus, which is pretty much a one-trick pony.
To say that Singaporeans are gaga over the game since it’s launch in early August is an understatement, and while there have been reports that there’s a decline in players, there seems to be some bubbles of excitement among comments on the news:
However, the reactions are nothing as compared to the hype that Pokemon GO-related news used to garner, and many were also saying how the Plus came too late:
Why It Will Be A Hit Or Miss – But More Likely A Miss
Personally, I’m a Pokemon GO player myself, and had written a fair share of articles on it (PokeGO hotspots, my PokeGO Hougang experience…just to name a few), but the fever for me lasted for just over 2 weeks, and from TODAY’s report on the fading popularity of the game among Singaporeans, it seems that I’m not the only one.
Here are a few reasons why the Plus was probably a good idea a few months back, but not so much right now.
1. Two Months Delay = Too Late
The truth of the matter is that the Plus was actually supposed to be launched 2 months ago in July, at the peak of PokeGO’s popularity, however, the date kept being pushed back with no proper reasons, according to tech site The Verge, in spite of massive demand for the device.
However, Nintendo eventually came out to explain that “[they delayed the release to] focus on the Pokemon GO app update and offer the best experience” – though they could just have taken the chance to ride on the first waves of popularity.
By releasing the Plus only now, the demand of the watch will be significantly decreased due to the massive drop of active players as time goes on. The Verge reported a drop from 45 million active users in late July to 30 million in mid-August.
With the repetitive nature of the game, players will inevitably lose interest, and while $35 won’t burn a hole in any pocket, the device will simply be redundant.
2. No Challenge
The mechanics involved with using the Plus is simple – all that swiping action you usually do on your phone has been reduced to a press of a button on the device.
While there is not doubt that it will be beneficial for those who want to catch Pokemon without being too obvious about it, the challenge and trepidation that usually comes while trying to catch a Pokemon that keeps slipping away is totally gone. And really, the challenge is what keeps people playing.
Perhaps the device is more for notification purposes so that players would be able to whip out their phones then, but $35 for a device just for that? No thanks.
Besides, it’s not certain if your Pokemon GO app needs to be actively running on your phone for the device to work, so if you’re thinking that you can save some battery with the Plus…you might need to prepare to be disappointed.
3. No One Will Wear 2 Watches
Yes, yes, the device can also be worn as a pin, but I highly doubt you’ll notice a vibration from something on your bag, when many of us can’t even feel the continuous vibrations that come whenever someone calls!
The best way is thus to wear it as a wristwatch, but if you’re already wearing a watch of another kind (either a smart one or not), the possibility is out of the question.
Besides, if you really wanted to play Pokemon GO without the need to take out your phone, Apple Watch’s demonstration is the clear winner.
Also, the Plus would only allow you to capture Pokemon that you already have in your Pokedex, so its purpose probably only serves those who want more candies for evolving.
Thanks But No Thanks
Let’s be honest, the reason why the game has been losing popularity is not because users need to constantly look at their phones – it’s because the fun and challenge that comes with a new game is depleting rapidly.
Catching new Pokemon gets stale, battling with others at Gyms gets repetitive, and the higher levels you get to, the more difficult every process gets, so unless there are new incentives, players will easily get dejected and give up.
So instead of releasing the Plus now, Nintendo and Niantic should actually continue to do what they were doing – improve the player experience, and add in new features that would keep active users hooked; and at the same time, entice back those who have left the game.
What do you think about the Pokemon GO Plus device, and would you buy it? Let us know!
Featured Image Credit: Nintendo