Today plans for one of the most requested Pokémon GO features since the game was launched a little over a year ago, the ability to find Legendary Pokémon , was finally revealed. In two days, players in Grant Park in Chicago will have the opportunity to enter into a raid battle against a Legendary Pokémon . If they succeed, it will eventually appear as a raid battle for everyone around the world.
Odds are you, the person reading this, has played Pokémon GO or at least have a pretty firm understanding of what it’s about. Last July the game was a global phenomena that we haven’t seen the likes of in quite awhile. Even the original craze that surrounded the original Pokémon Red and Blue games didn’t have the widespread appeal that Pokémon GO had. Pokémon GO is simple to play, and is widely accessible as a free app on smart phones. No Game Boy, GBA, DS, or 3DS required.
The fallout that followed is widely documented at this point. We all know that the days of local parks being filled with Pokémon GO players every day are long over. No matter what Niantic does at this point, it probably is never going to go back to that glorious month of July 2016. And, as many in the gaming community have pointed out already, it’s largely Niantic’s fault. Niantic doesn’t have ill intent, let’s make that clear. But they clearly weren’t ready to maintain a game that quickly became one of the most popular games on the planet.
Like most titles at their launch – and especially the case for a game as popular as Pokémon GO was (and still is) – bugs and server issues was a wet blanket for many, especially for more casual gamers not used to these issues by now in 2017. That still didn’t stop the popularity though. But then, there was the controversy over the in-game’s Pokémon tracker, which gave you distance clues to help you hunt down local Pokemon, a neat feature that apparently didn’t work the way Niantic wanted, and was eventually removed. This led to the rise of third-party tools which Niantic continues to fight tooth and nail against. While Niantic certainly has the right to try and shut down anything that they deem provides an unfair advantage, by doing so they indirectly also went after their most dedicated players. This struggle still persists into the current day.
Frustrating missteps such as those persisted on past July and August of 2016 but by far though, the biggest black eye on the game is not what Niantic did, but hasn’t done. Pokémon GO still doesn’t really feel very much like a Pokémon game as it’s still missing two very key features: trading and battling.
Adding Legendary Pokémon today is yes, something. Mark it down, Niantic finally delivered on one of the many things fans have been begging for a year, but it still pales in comparison to what trading and battling with friends (not in gyms) would do for the game. Hunting Pokémon is just one part of what makes the gameplay successful. Battling is in the game, but in a overly simplified state, and trading, of course, is non-existent.
It’s actually amazing and a testament to the popularity of Pokémon that in spite of being barely recognizable to the core games that fans love, that Pokemon GO has retained so many fans, and hobbled its way to over $950 million in revenue in 2016, while still having over 60 million monthly players. Even where Pokémon GO leveled off from its astronomical surge at launch is still a place many mobile app developers would dream to be at.
So really, it doesn’t matter how slow Niantic is to add features to the game that everyone wants. Pokemon GO doesn’t need to be at bullet train speed to succeed. Clearly, Niantic is content with taking the public bus to get to the point where Pokemon GO is at or near its full potential. They’ll get there when they get there, and still rake it in along the way. The news about Legendary Pokemon is worthy of celebration. Enjoy and cherish it, because it could be a while before you get this excited again.