Ways to Improve Pokémon Go

Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm, in ways I didn't expect, and if the inconsistent servers are any indication, Niantic probably didn't expect either. I won't waste too much time talking about what Pokémon GO (or PoGO) is, but rather, I'm focusing on what it can be. If you head to an area with lots of Pokestops at almost ANY time of day you will be sure to find several people playing this game hanging out at a lure or making their rounds to help hatch those eggs (how 'bout that Fort Stanwix). PoGO is by all means an epidemic, changing the way the world works. You can see businesses adapting to this new explosion in heavy foot traffic and embracing what PoGO is doing for communities.
It's no doubt that this app is fantastic and managed to get kids (and adults) to get out and about quicker and more often than any Nickelodeon PSA or Michele Obama campaign. For some it's the nostalgic feeling of walking around the real world and catching your favorite Pokémon, for others it's the sense of community and social aspects, and others enjoy the competition, wearing their team colors proudly and teaming up to have the tallest gym in the area. The game has a little something for anybody. However, they still have a few kinks that could be worked out. Ignoring the obvious server issues I'm going to list 9 ways to improve Pokémon GO.

1) Party up/ Friends List

Pokémon GO is better with friends! However, sometimes your friends have different objectives than you do. While you might want to sit at a lure and reap in those Pokémon catches another friend might want to walk around and hit up some Pokestops and add to their egg hatching walking distance. This can result in friends splitting up and getting separated from each other. A quick solution to this problem would be to let you party up with friends and follow their location on the in-game map. You could even include an option to ping locations in-case a member of your party locates that Growlithe you've been hunting since the game came out.... one day... 

2) 8-Bit music option

This is more of a personal preference thing, but I really don't enjoy the music or sound effects in PoGO. They don't make me feel the nostalgic fuzzy feelings I would like to feel while on Pokémon adventures. If we had an option to choose an 8-bit sound pack I know I wouldn't be the only one to enjoy that. I might be in a much smaller group of people that would actually pay to enable a feature like this.

3) Multiple Pokémon Selections

Transferring my 30 duplicate rattata takes too long. Why can't I just check and select all of the ones I don't want so I can quickly transfer all of them? Would make life a lot easier. Especially for a game that drains your battery as much as PoGO. Please fix Niantic.

4) The footprint tracking system

This is buggy, I don't know what's going on ever. Maybe I'm terrible but anytime a cool Pokémon shows up on the tracker it somehow manages to disappear. How does it go from 3 foot prints to 2 to gone? Pokémon running away from you is one level of frustration, but it's a whole new level when they just don't show up after you walked around forever.

5) Accessing your phone's flashlight in the App

Cause a lot of times you're PoGOing at night.

6) Stop PoGO while driving

If the game caps egg hatching at 12mph it can save lives (or slow down traffic) by stopping any Pokémon from showing up when moving faster than 12mph. People that are driving need to be reminded that they are operating a death machine, and driving and playing PoGO is reckless and also destroys the whole point of getting out and going outside. Imagine how boring the anime would be if Ash rode around in a car all day. That's dumb. Unfortunately, this kind of an update would destroy the business model for Uber driving PoGO trainers, but that's the kind of sacrifices we make to save lives from irresponsible drivers.

7) Elemental Incense

Climate is inescapable and some regions will find it's nearly impossible to catch certain types of Pokémon. I propose a premium item category that costs double the coins of regular incense, but specifically targets certain types of Pokémon. I'm not big on spending real money on free games, but some people are and I imagine they would really appreciate a way to diversify the Pokémon that pop up in certain areas, but I also think it's really cool that some areas have different sets of extremely common Pokémon, so don't change that.

8) Audio proximity pinging systems

In an effort to prevent everyone from continually staring at their phone on their adventures out in the world, I think an audio ping system as you get closer and closer to a selected Pokémon would help a core component of PoGO that encourages users to explore the world around them, and not just staring at a simulated world on a screen the whole time.

9) Resetting every season with the next gen of Pokémon

I'm concerned where this game is heading if players can level up their Pokémon forever with no end in sight. I also think level caps in an experience like this will discourage veteran players from the game once they run out of things to do. In addition to that, once you start combing generations of Pokémon, catching them all becomes a nearly impossible task. As of 2013, there are 718 Pokémon total according to this google search, with another generation on the way. Call me casual, but at that point it's just too much. I think in order to keep the game fresh and stop it from getting out of hand they should reset the players every season (3 months) and introduce a single new generation of Pokémon to catch. Keep the pokedex data, as well as your Pokemon inventory, but restrict the previous generation from participating in gym battles. Depending on how well you do in the previous season you will be given an option of rewards to choose from to help you get a head start in the next season. I have other ideas for making a seasonal system like this work, but that's the bare bones of it. I'd love to hear other people's thoughts.

The Bigger Issues

Now, none of these smaller fixes mean anything if we can't get consistent connections to the servers, so let's hope the bigger issue at hand gets patched up before these smaller problems are addressed. Pokémon GO is such a universal unifying experience that I would be real sad to see it crash due to the server issues we're all putting up with for now. So let's hope Niantic keeps working hard at making this game the player experience we deserve! Maybe take up that offer from Amazon

Those are my 9 ways to improve the user experience of PoGO. If there is anything I overlooked, I'd love to hear other's thoughts on the topic. This game is still brand new and has a lot of room to expand. I'm sure we all have great ideas on how to make this game better!

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  1. Don't like the season reset idea. Not one bit. However every other suggestions you posted is brilliant.

    I also think Pokémon GO will be better when that wristwatch comes out. It will leave the game running in the background and the wristwatch will vibrate when a Pokémon is nearby. To me that seems awesome.

    1. Thanks for reading, man!

      Wrist watch seems like a great battery/data saver!

      I definitely don't think the seasonal reset is a perfect solution, but I also am concerned about the problem of gym battles becoming inaccessible to anybody that picks up the game today. I don't see how they're supposed to catch up. I didn't play for a few days and I already feel like most of the popular gyms are out of reach for me.

      And I do think it would get RIDICULOUS if they started adding all 700+ Pokemon into the game.

      I dunno, I don't like the idea of losing my lickatongue, I'm interested what you would propose to keep the game accessible, while also rewarding for Pokemon masters? Or maybe there all ready is something in place.

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