Catching em' all

Disclaimer: this is pretty much just a rant.

So you know about Pokemon Go, right? Of course you do. It was a ridiculous sensation that blew up faster than pretty much any other phone app ever. There were 10 million downloads of the app and over $200 million generated in it's first month! Since it's release on July 6th to date they've exceeded 500 million downloads and $500 million from in-app transactions. This is nuts.

I always had pets growing up. I love dogs. In fact, I'm really bummed that we don't have a dog right now, but we're planning on getting a dog this Christmas. I digress. What does this have to do with Pokemon? Pretty much everything.

Imagine a kid who loves his dog. Now imagine that same kid spends the vast majority of his adolescence playing primarily Japanese video games. This is the perfect formula for a Pokemon master. So Pokemon, for those of you who were popular in grade school, is a game all about traveling around, capturing unique creatures, training them up and fighting bad guys with them. Imagine if I could train my dog to fly or blow things up. I mean that's pretty much every little boy's dream.

So with the release of Pokemon Go (henceforth referred to as PoGo) obviously all of my nostalgia kicked in and I gave it a shot. I'm at a point in life where I appreciate fresh concepts and excellent implementation over all else and, having never seen a location-based augmented reality game before, was pretty blown away by the game. Now at launch there were some pretty horrid issues like lag, disconnections, errors, etc. but the nostalgia carried me through that until it got stable.

I've always loved biking so I started riding at night under the guise of "exercise" but my wife knew I was just going to play Pokemon. She endured it though because the exercise was happening nonetheless. At first it was hard and really shed some light on just how out of shape I was, but my drive to "Catch em' all" kept me going, riding longer distances.

Over the first few weeks I actually got in conversations with some interesting people: an intern for a local game development company, a branch manager of a local Bank of America, college students, bikers, walkers, parents, I even connected with some co-workers I wouldn't normally of had the chance to interact with along the way. It was really crazy, I had never seen a game bring this many people together.

Without going into more detail than I already have, the game began to grow stale after a while. The company calling the shots consistently makes poor decisions and it's costing them the vast majority of their player base. I'm still hanging on because I'm a completionist and I'm so close to literally catching 'em all that I can't stop now, but more so than that - playing the game has revived my love for biking that died when I got a car at 16.

I'm commuting into work every day, going for rides at night, and the game is completely secondary to the enjoyment I get from being out in nature and doing something to make myself stronger and have more energy to play with my kids when I get home. But part of me is really saddened by the massive opportunity the game had that was squandered by the developer's poor decisions.

The company refused to provide features they promised, they sit on radio silence at all times instead of communicating with their core group of players, the features they do roll out are generally lackluster and are few and far between... and it's just frustrating not because I care about PoGo but because I've never seen an app have such a direct effect on the community and now their window of influence has passed. There will be other games that try to copy it, but nothing in the near future is going to have the impact that this game did for a long time.

Evan Lemmons

Lemmons Creative LLC, Alpharetta, Georgia, USA

Husband, father, musician, gamer.