News & CultureAre You Still Playing Pokémon Go?
After a month of catching Pidgeys, some trainers are starting to get bored. Others are just getting started.
It’s been just over a month since Jigglypuffs began inhabiting our local parks, Zubats took to the skies, and Rattatas started showing up in all the places we’d fear rats would (anywhere). When it launched, Pokémon Go was inescapable, no matter where you went: to the park, to the bar, to the gym (okay, I never went to the gym). But as the weeks have gone by, I’ve noticed fewer people on the street tossing imaginary Pokéballs from their smartphones Strangers had stopped dropping lures on the PokéStop by my apartment, meaning I had to leave the comfort of my bedroom to go capture Pokémon like some kind of mutant whose power is the ability to endure New York’s humidity.
Are people still playing Pokémon Go? I asked Twitter, which confirmed my suspicions that people are largely losing interest in the game:
Are you still playing Pokémon Go?
- 45% – Never bothered
- 16% – Nah
- 24% – Barely
- 15% – Yeah
For the most successful mobile game launch ever, that is a precipitous drop off. It appears that for all of Pokémon Go’s charms, people seem to be losing interest. Let’s pour one out for our man, Pikachu.
The lifespan of a mobile game is short, but given the Pokémon Go’s phenomenal debut, it might be burning out faster than anyone expected. So why are people quitting? Why are they still playing? I asked a few people.
Adam, 31, London, Level 5
Why did you quit Pokémon Go?
I think I was mostly just excited to battle so it was dumb trying to get to level 5. I lost my first battle and the experience was underwhelming, so I kind of lost interest. Also my girlfriend got logged out and can't log back in. She stopped playing and not having anyone to compete against made it less fun.
What would get you to come back?
Probably if people I hung out with all the time were playing. Quitting makes it sound like I am taking such a hard stance.
Maggie, 31, Chicago, Level 18
Why do you think you're near the end of your Pokémon journey?
I've been playing the game since pretty much the beginning, and I had been feeling like within my normal routines, I had gotten about as many new experiences of the game as I could get. But this week I have been in the Renaissance Center in Detroit for work—and here I am having a very different experience.
There are many stops with lures 24/7, and packs of all different types of people playing the game all the time (but especially at night). So I'm experiencing the best of the communal aspects AND encountering tons and tons of new and different Pokémon than I find in my regular routine.
So I think when I get home to Chicago, I just won't be as excited. Like, I will probably check in with the game still, but there won't be the joy of the communal experience or the excitement of encountering rare Pokémon that I've had this week.
What would keep you playing?
They could keep me engaged by changing things up and if I had a reason to think that, in my day-to-day, I was going to encounter new Pokémon. But, really the simplicity of the game is its beauty in many ways. So I'm not sure I would truly want a lot of new bells and whistles.
Elliott, 36, Houston
How come you never played Pokémon Go?
It's really just time—with two young kids, the day job, and a brutal Houston commute, I couldn't fit the hours into the day. Plus, it's been a glorious summer of binge-watching Pokémon the show (en español!) with the fam, even though the game looked cool.
What would get you to try it out?
For me to try out Pokémon Go, they'd need to change the code back and allow the cool third-party apps which everybody was using at first. I'd also probably need there to be 26-28 hours in the day, but it'd be worth it.
Do your kids play Pokémon Go?
My kids are too young for cell phones, but my nieces and nephews in high school are all addicted. My kids are still in the Minecraft dev stage.
Eliza, 27, Boston, Level 19
What keeps you playing Pokémon Go?
I always liked the lamest parts of Pokémon—the Nintendo 64 game that was just photographing Pokémon in the wild, for example—so with Pokémon Go, I like collecting Pokemon. I don't care about the gym competition or leveling up. What keeps me playing Pokémon Go is the promise of seeing new Pokémon.
Do you think you'll ever stop?
I think I'll stop soon, but more of a slow fade out than a cold turkey thing. It's already a little embarrassing to still be playing though the game's only been out a few weeks. At first it was a fun social activity, but it's gotten a little more solitary, for me at least. Also it takes so much XP to level up in the higher levels and it's like, how many Rattatas can I possibly evolve before this becomes an honest to god waste of time?
Anthony, 26, Cleveland, Level 32
What keeps you playing Pokémon Go so intensely?
I have almost caught them all—142/142. (I have a full regional Pokédex.) I’m missing the three regional Pokémon, Ditto, and the five unreleased legendary Pokémon—a total of nine.
What keeps me playing right now is getting 100% perfect IV Pokémon, so making the perfect Pokémon with a perfect moves set. For example, I already have a Blastoise, but I’m waiting to find or hatch a 98%+ IV Squirtle to use my 220 Squirtle candies to make a "perfect" Blastoise.
Why do you want to get “perfect” IV Pokémon? Like, you have a Blastoise already, why get another one?
My Blastoise is only a 32% IV right now. I made him before Go players knew about the IV system. So right now I have 220 Squirtle candies. I’m looking for a 97%+ Squirtle so I can evolve it right on the spot into a Blastoise, making the strongest possible Blastoise on the market, while hoping that he has a perfect move set, which is completely random. (Best moveset for Blastoise is Watergun/Hydropump.)
What also keeps me playing is waiting for events to come out. I’ve made over 40 new friends playing, and we're all pretty close and play together. We have a Facebook Messenger group chat with 50+ people that calls out rare Pokémon on the regular.
I also love the exercise on my bicycle. Since I’ve started playing, I’ve dropped 30 lbs. I love riding my bike.
I heard you had a custom phone holder for your bike.
Yeah, we got a tack welder and welded an EMT clamp to it. I can mount it to my bike handlebars. It’s my buddy’s design. He’s made three of them for us.