Pokémon Go broke every download record in mobile history.
And that first weekend, when you couldn't walk 5 feet without stumbling upon another player, was magical.
Since then, we've had server issues, a broken tracking system, and promise after promise after promise from Niantic with no real substantial update.
Sure, we have the new Pokémon Go Plus device (which is a welcome addition to the game), but it's currently sold out in most locations. And a $35 device alone will not help a game that is seriously struggling to keep its user-base, despite being the most lucrative mobile game ever.
So, how can Pokémon Go reclaim its early magic and retain players? Here are a few Court of Nerds Approved (TM) suggestions:
We sort of have this already, with rewards gained from having Pokémon connected to a Gym, but hear me out.
Look at Marvel Puzzle Quest as an example. Each day you log in and complete one mission, you get a "S.H.I.E.L.D. Daily Resupply."
Pokémon Go could implement this in any number of ways. Perhaps your Gym Leader gives you stardust based on the day of the week. Perhaps, the more times you log in, the better the prizes become (like MPQ).
Imagine logging in each day, and the prizes getting successively better. Day one could be as simple as 10 Pokéballs. Day 100 could be 20,000 Stardust. Maybe your Gym Leader would find a "unique looking egg" with a rare Pokémon or candy inside. Niantic would incentivize people to keep coming back to the game.
More people logged in = more people more likely to visit the shop.
"But Gregg," you ask, "why would people even bother with the shop if Niantic gives away stuff for free?"
Back to Marvel Puzzle Quest: they give you better rewards based on the number of days you log in, right?
Guess what! People are still buying stuff in their in-game store. They're still spending real-world money. Giving people a reason to come back means you're giving people a reason to spend money on your game.
We'll look at Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes as our next example. Every day, you're given a list of "tasks" to complete, and are given a reward for each. They're all simple. Stuff like "Train one character," or "Fight in the Arena 3 times." And once you complete those tasks, you get a daily completion reward. This differs from the log-in bonus, as it incentivizes using the game in different ways.
Pokémon Trainers could be sent on "errands" for their Team Leaders or Professor Willow (or both!).
For example: perhaps Professor Willow is researching the evolutionary habits of Pidgeys in the wild. Team Leader Blanche will task you with catching x number of wild Pidgeys and transferring them to Professor Willow. For this task, you'll be given extra XP/Stardust/Pokéballs as a reward.
These daily activities are limitless. Perhaps you could train-up a gym for a bonus. Or maybe you could evolve 10 Pokémon. Since we already have "achievements," why not tie rewards to those as well? Earning a "bronze" in "Scientist" for example, could net you more rewards.
It's incredibly simple: If you reward players for playing your game, they'll be more likely to stick around.
I'm not going to harp on the already discussed issues with the battle system, nor am I going to get into "Gym Sniping," both of which have been discussed to death (though Niantic said they are "aware" of the latter).
Gyms, in general, need serious work. For one, it's a major pain to build up a gym when an overeager Team member adds their 2500 CP Dragonite.
For that matter, advanced level 10 gyms are damned near impossible to take down without stronger Pokémon. This makes Gyms a frustrating affair, as they've quickly become useless for the vast majority of people who are not "power-gaming" to Trainer Level 40. And for those holding the gym? You get a pittance of a daily reward and a real-world ego boost. That's about it.
First, training up a gym. Failing to defeat the current Gym leader should still net you points and/or experience. It's bloody frustrating to throw your best into training a gym and getting nowhere because of the aforementioned 2500 CP Dragonite. Even if it doesn't make the gym any stronger, why not give candy for the Pokemon you used to train the gym?
Heck, maybe even turning the gym into a Pokemon lure for nearby gym members? Another awesome addition would be to have those defending Pokémon (or even Pokémon you use to train the gym) gain CP.
Higher and better rewards would help newer players become more competitive in the long run.
Ingress already has this. Give us some way, any way to interact within the game. This could be as simple as what's already in Ingress.
They may need to keep the similar chat ranges (20km, 200km, Global), and since we'll soon have the ability to "trade" Pokémon, having a friend list, and being able to interact with those friends is a must. This would also make PVP interactions (which are also supposedly coming within the year) more like in X and Y.
Speaking of PVP, when it's implemented, having "leaderboards" would be awesome. Again, with sliders that could adjust for local, regional, national, or among friends.
Fix the Freaking Tracking System Already
Look, I get it. The 3 steps system that was in place before was a major drain on the servers. It was also one of the most popular features in the game. While I'm not terribly concerned as to whether it comes back, we need a better tracker.
Currently, the "sightings" tab is useless. And that fabled "Pokéstop" tracker which is supposedly "coming soon" (in other words, soft-launched on the West Coast) shows promise, but until it gets a wide-release, we're still completely in the dark.
As Niantic works their damnedest to squish out nearly every tracking map and app, people in the real world are still trying to find a way to get the next best (or rarest) Pokémon. This may only get worse as the number of Pokémon rises in future updates.
Give us a viable way to track Pokemon in-game, and we'll use it!
Niantic has a golden opportunity with one of the most beloved and lucrative franchises in gaming. And while we know they're working hard (EDIT: Minor text fixes), we want the game to be as good as they say it will be. Pokémon Go has so much potential, it would be an absolute shame to see it fade into obscurity. Come on, Niantic! We know you can make this game the very best!
What do you think? What else would you like to see in Pokemon Go? Leave a comment below!