Despite what the vocal minority online might suggest - with their near-constant cries of "do people really still play that game?" - Pokémon GO is going from strength to strength, with new events and in-game features helping it to secure its highest player figures since its Earth-shattering launch.
Not long after that launch back in July 2016, regular player numbers did start to dwindle as the "fad" wore off. The game was also subject to a lot of negative press, both in the gaming media world and mainstream news, after a rather disastrous festival in 2017 which saw numerous technical problems cause anger amongst fans who had - in some cases - paid thousands to be there. As a result, Niantic had to settle a class action suit with a $1.6 million payout.
Things have been steadily on the rise since then, however, with features heavily demanded by fans arriving in the game like trading - and player vs player battles promised to be on the way - and the return of the Pokémon GO Fest this year was a huge success. John Hanke, founder and CEO of the game's developer Niantic, has been speaking to The Guardian about the game's current state.
“I don’t think I could have imagined anything about the last two years. But it’s been great. I guess what’s most satisfying two years in, is seeing this thriving, strong user base of people that are not here for the fad, but because they love the core values of the game. Which is why we did it. It got lost in the first two months of Pokémon GO craziness. I wasn’t sure if people liked us for who we really were, or if they were just there because everybody else was.”
He also addressed those features that have been steadily pulling players back in, noting that Niantic has its own vision of where it wants to see the game in the future.
“It’s important that you have a vision of where you want to go. You can’t just be subject to the whims of what the public expresses. We’ve always tried to break new ground: things like trading and player v player combat, which is still not in the game but is something we think belongs in it. It feels like we are finally on a nice, regular cadence.
“Our guidelines are that people should be encouraged to get out and explore their community, get exercise and interact with other people in the real world. Those are what we think distinguishes our games from others.”
Have you been playing the game recently? Did you start playing at launch but haven't been back since? Feel free to share your experiences with Pokémon GO in the comments below.