When you think back on one of the most explosive phenomena to occur this year, Pokémon Go would be up on that list. Since its release in July, the app was downloaded 500 million times which made it one of the most downloaded apps ever.
Unfortunately, the number of active users loading up the app on a daily basis continues to decline as creators Niantic seem to be focusing on upgrading features that aren’t relevant instead of improving on issues the game faces. This might be why huge numbers are leaving the app, going from 45 million daily users to about 12 million as of October.
So if you’re one of those users who has left the game and been out of the loop on how the game has changed since you last checked, here are the major updates the game has gone through since the team leader appraisal feature.
1) Pokémon GO Plus.
Possibly the update that many were waiting for was the introduction of the Pokémon GO Plus, a new wearable device that allows users to catch Pokémon, access PokéStops and hatch eggs, all without having to hold phones in their hands. The accessory is meant to be wrapped around users’ wrists or attached to clothes and is paired with the app via Bluetooth.
The only requirement it needs is the latest updated version of the app that supports Pokémon GO Plus. Once it’s linked, the band automates almost all the experience of playing, letting users capture Pokémon and snag items with just a press of a single button and without the need to look at the screen.
Though the main advantage is that Pokémon GO players can now stay focused on the road rather than their phones all the time, the downside is the hefty price tag attached to an accessory that is optional at best. Its availability also seems to be a problem; Niantic faces trouble keeping it in stock for most people to enjoy.
2) Pokémon GO buddy system.
I still recall when the game was at the height of its popularity, one of the initial complaints hardcore fans of the original games had was how there was no option to have a tiny Pikachu following you about as the Yellow Gameboy series had.
So Niantic took care of this with their update back in September where trainers were given the option to choose one of their Pokémon listed in their Pokédex to become their buddy.
What does a buddy do exactly? Mainly, a Pokétrainer is able to earn Candy for their Buddy Pokémon by walking a certain distance. Through the buddy system, rare in-game rewards and experiences can be obtained which essentially is meant to provide a stronger bond between the trainer and their Pokémon.
3) Lowering the CP of Pokémon based on level.
Niantic definitely took their time improving on the gym battle system; most of the issues users had with the game stemmed from that initially.
So, one of the updates catered to those who complained about the difficulty of training in their team’s own gyms. The update made the CP of the Pokémon you are training against temporarily adjusted lower during your training session to generally match your Pokémon’s battle capabilities. This way, it allows for better fair play among users to make sure training isn’t seen as too much of a challenge.
In addition, the CP of the opposing Pokemon will be reduced to the level of the trainers for the duration of the training session. This makes it easier to defeat a teammate’s Pokemon in battle, allowing players to level up, even by themselves.
“No matter what your level, you can now have an impact on your team’s Gym,” reads Niantic’s update post. “Walk with your Buddy Pokémon to that nearby landmark and show your Team Leader that you can battle with the best!”
4) Catch bonus.
Pokétrainers can now earn a catch bonus for a Pokémon type as they catch more of said specific type.
The new feature grants a catch bonus when you earn medals based on catching certain types of Pokémon such as Kindler, Psychic, Gardener, etc. These new bonuses will give you a better chance of capturing Pokémon with a related type. For example, as you reach a higher tier for the Kindler Medal, your bonus to catch Fire-type Pokémon such as Charmander, Vulpix and Ponyta increases.
When you’re in the bronze tier or when you catch 10 creatures of the same type, you earn a +1 catch bonus for that Pokémon type. If you capture 50, which is the silver tier, you get +2 catch bonus. If you are at the gold tier or when you capture 200 Pokémon of the same kind, you will be rewarded with +3 catch bonus.
According to BGR, with this new catch bonus, if you capture some Fire-type Pokémon and get the Kindler Medal for your efforts, you will find it much easier to catch Charizard. Without the catch bonus, capturing Charizard is a tedious task.
5) Six Pokémon can be brought to team gym battles rather than one.
In order to complement the bigger Pokédex roster, Pokétrainers now can sport six Pokémon in team gym battles.
Before this update, a trainer could bring only one Pokémon for battle or training to your team’s gym. This made the overall process frustrating because you’d only be able to use a single Pokémon to face off against a gym’s entire defense team. This is in contrast to when you’re battling against an opposing team’s gym, where you’re allowed to use a full team of six to take it down.
This all changed with their update where Niantic made it so you’re able to train friendly gyms with the same number of Pokémon as you can use to attack opposing team’s gyms. The change made it much easier to beef up a gym and in turn earn rewards from holding it.
6) Decreased the evolution animation time.
The previous evolution animation time took a total of 25 seconds. Niantic then revealed an update where the new evolution animation time is now 20 seconds.
This is one update that pleased most Pokémon Go fans, as the evolution animation time is something that had been the subject of many complaints for the past few months. It might not seem like it takes very long to evolve creatures, and you may never have thought of this as an issue. But it’s likely to have come up if you’re a fan of Lucky Eggs.
This is the game’s item that gives players double XP for a 30 minute time period, and because evolving a Pokémon already nets you a fair amount of XP, one popular strategy for leveling up is to stock up on a bunch of low-leveled Pokémon—Pidgey, for example—and then evolve every single one of them back to back during a Lucky Egg session.
Before this update, it was possible to evolve around 60 Pokémon within one half-hour Lucky Egg session. But so much of that time is just spent waiting for the evolution animation to finish, so with it being sped up by Niantic this week, Lucky Egg sessions will become even more rewarding than ever before. According to Reddit, trainers can now evolve 75 Pokémon during Lucky Egg sessions.
This animation change is one of three pretty significant alterations in the latest Pokémon Go updates.
7) Speedlock on all devices.
The latest and most recent update involves Niantic removing all spawns and sightings when driving. They imposed a 30-mph speedlock upon Pokémon GO players, which deliberately erases all Pokémon spawns and completely shuts off the sightings list when players are travelling above 30 mph.
This means that when the game detects that the players are going above what Niantic considers as “driving speed”, they won’t be able to play as they normally do. This new feature came after the patch that added the push notifications, which players called both ‘useless’ and ‘annoying’.
Although this update’s main purpose is for safety and security reasons, and it may seem like Niantic only has the players’ best interests in mind, Pokémon GO players are outraged after perpetually getting what they see as useless updates for the past consecutive weeks. The developer’s questionable decisions have been affecting the players’ ability to explore and enjoy the game.
Features that players would actually like to see are a good tracking system to allow you to see nearby Pokémon, ability to battle other trainers outside gyms, to be able to battle wild Pokémon and more Pokémon to be added to the roster. These are mostly features that the console games had, and that’s what the players now want to see.
Safe to say, many agree that Pokémon Go is an ongoing trainwreck that could either get better or worse. The only thing Niantic needs to do is listen to the community after all, but all these complaints have been falling on deaf ears so far.
Feature Image Credit: Compiled from Imgur, phandroid.com, gizmo.com