Whenever I think of Pokémon GO and John Hanke, I always think of the word “fair.” Time and time again in recent months, whenever we hear from Hanke, he has a tendency to iterate how “Pokémon GO is a fair game.” But is it though?
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately and the more I think about it, the more I feel myself inclined to say no, it isn’t fair at all and somewhat contradictory if I’m honest. Since the app initially released and became a global phenomenon, we couldn’t get enough of it, but with every update that comes out, the game actually seems to be getting worse. Before we had a working tracking system that could actually be used to locate Pokémon, only to have tracking removed and now replaced with Sightings. Originally we were also able to find rare Pokémon nests and catch ourselves a ton of Dratinis, but then some of those nests vanished entirely, whereas others remained where they were, except Dratinis got replaced with Eevees, Zubats & Pidgeys and so on.
But today’s editorial isn’t about that, it’s about Pokémon GO’s fairness. Pokémon GO is supposed to be for everyone and offer a fair and fun experience, but it doesn’t because although people of all ages are able to play the game, not all of us have the means. For example, the older gamers who would love to partake in the game’s delights can’t enjoy the app as much as they would like because of work commitments and other responsibilities, whereas the younger generation have all the time in the world. So straight away the younger gen of gamers are at an unfair advantage, but although they can play more and catch more, they’re not as financially equipped as the older gamers. Whereas they can’t afford to fork out on , but the older gen, who have jobs and a steady income can. So while the younger gen are actually forced to go out and Poké Stops to go get more, the older gen just pull out their phones and spend a minute to make another purchase.
Admittedly you could argue that the two things balance themselves out, because in a way it does, but it doesn’t make the game fair, especially when you consider something such as location. Not all of us live in cities and towns. In fact a lot of us playing the game live in rural areas, places where rare Pokémon don’t show up that often and when I say often, I do of course mean once every 3 to 5 days, which leaves us with nowt all else to do but catch more Ratatta and Pidgeys, whilst waiting a few hours before even a Poliwag decides to show up. Sure using lures does help make more Pokémon spawn and better ones too, but again it comes back to money, not everyone can afford to fork out a fortune on lures. Businesses can though.
In fact more reports are coming in which state businesses are not only putting out lures, but are actually in talks with Niantic and are paying to have rarer Pokémon spawn around their establishment. If that’s true, then it does make a mockery of the game’s “fairness.” A business being a paid sponsor is one thing, but to actually be able to pay for rarer Pokémon to show up, when rural areas get nothing but common Pokés is wrong. We don’t control where we live, but it literally sounds like Niantic is saying, “Rare Pokémon? We can help with that, but it will cost you.” It is essentially extortion. Sure you don’t have to go down that route, there is an alternative, you play the game “fairly” and take a lot of road trips to larger cities such as London, New York and Paris. Sure it might seem feasible at first, but when you find yourself going back over and over again, that’s where it gets expensive. But then again, Pokémon GO is an expensive game.
Given the amount of revenue the game has amassed in such a short amount of time, you would think Niantic might turn around and say “well, actually we could drop the prices on a few things,” but they haven’t. The prices remain the same and there has been no chatter whatsoever of lowering them, but then why would all those involved want the prices dropped? Everyone involved is making a lot of money, off an app which doesn’t properly represent a game series we have been in love with for decades. Gym Badges are gone, certain Pokémon no longer evolve when you trade them and all battling is done in real time. In fact because of the lack of the true Pokémon elements, you could argue Pokémon GO could very easily be Digimon GO, or even Yo-Kai Watch GO, and you would be right to do so.
As much as I actually love this game and love every minute spent playing it, Pokémon GO is a wolf in Sheep’s clothing and in this case, the sheep is Pokémon and no, it’s not Flaffy. Hanke keeps saying that it’s a fair game, but fair to whom? Those playing the game? The developers? Or those who stand to profit the most? And then of course there’s the cheating and bans. Due to various complaints of players spoofing their GPS locations to catch certain Pokémon in other areas, or exploiting the game to give themselves Articunos, Niantic are now coming down hard on these cheaters and that’s good. But not when a lot of the people they are banning don’t deserve to have their accounts deleted in the first place. Banning cheaters is one thing, but when a lot of people are being banned because they used third party apps to check the IVs of their Pokémon, well that’s not right.
Why? Because in Niantic’s latest update for the app, you can now have your Team Leader check over the Pokémon you catch, essentially evaluating their IVs. Had this update come out sooner, those banned players might not have felt compelled to check the IVs of their Pokémon, meaning they could have avoided being banned altogether and now Niantic seem to be banning people who haven’t actually done anything wrong, all because other players have reported them, so what’s fair about that Niantic?
Like I said before, I do love this game, and I really enjoyed every minute I spent playing it, but the game is losing a lot of players interest because of all the banning, the loss of tracking and the lack of content. I hate to say it, but right now it seems Niantic are actually more interested in releasing the app in more countries, so that they can milk their cash cow dry before the bring out new content as a means of getting us all back on board the Pokémon GO train and spending our saved up notes. And if that hasn’t made you want to punch me in the face, this probably will, right now Pokémon GO doesn’t feel like a Pokémon game. It feels like a money machine that Niantic are very fond of and despite their claims of it being fair, it isn’t. The game is biased. It is not fair, but I do enjoy it, so I’m not going to stop playing it, but I am going to stop buying in to the line Niantic seem intent to sell to us.
To those of you still reading, thanks for sticking and reading to the end of this editorial. Should you wish to call me out on any of the above things I said, feel free to do so, that’s what comments are for. You listened to my opinion, so it’s only fair I listen to yours, so let me have it.
Tags: August Feature, Editorial, Fairness & Equality, Miketendo64, Mobile Gaming, Niantic Labs, Pokemon, Pokemon Go
This post was written by Jack Longman