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It’s Been Three Years, and I’m Still Playing Pokemon Go

The phenomenon that was Pokemon Go has since settled into a more humble territory. Long gone are the days where it seemed everyone that had a smart phone was playing, or when parks were swarmed at all hours of the day and night with would-be trainers. In their place is a dedicated fan base that continues to enjoy the game now three years after release. Fortunately for them, Pokemon Go has never been better.

It goes without saying the launch of Pokemon Go in 2016 was kind of a disaster. Server crashes, players not being able to log in, gyms not functioning properly, some Pokemon being way too powerful, the list goes on.

Take a look at the game now, though, and you’ll discover why millions still enjoy this game.

There are nearly 500 Pokemon in the game, ranging from first generation classics like Pikachu and Charizard, to generation four favorites like … I don’t know, Piplup and Bidoof? Which Pokemon are fan favorites then? The point is, there’s a lot of Pokemon in the game now.

You can now trade Pokemon and battle fellow trainers, something that was clamored for since the very beginning of the game. While I think it probably should have really been in the game since launch, it’s nice to see it finally present. Oh, and speaking of presents, you can also find and send gifts to other players. Once opened, the gifts give random items to players, like Stardust that’s used to upgrade your Pokemon, or potions and revives to use in battle. Again, it’s a nice addition that makes the game much more approachable and addictive.

A big reason I’m enjoying the game more now is the tweaking and balancing of the Gyms. They are still there and function largely the same: you have up to six Pokemon defending a gym from up to six different players, and you and your allies can use your Pokemon to battle them down and eventually overtake the gym to your team’s colors. It still involves just tapping away at the screen, but changes to how attacks and damage are dealt, as well as limiting the number of identical Pokemon in any given gym to just one, means battles play out a bit fairly.

Strangely, when it comes to gyms, it almost seems like they’ve become ways to sort of show off your collection of shiny Pokemon. Oftentimes I’ll see particularly weak monsters in gyms, seemingly just because they are shiny versions. Take this gym for example:

It’s literally the gym I’m in right now at Starbucks, and it has three Pokemon that don’t really have a chance defending their turf, and are only present because their trainers’ want to show off a shiny Mankey and Sneasel to the world. Still though, It’s nice not to see the same dozen or so Pokemon in gyms across the land.

Also, I’ve discovered here in California the Pokemon Go community is rather strong. Literally. I went back to Indiana three separate times since the release of Pokemon Go, and these last two times especially I noticed how strong my teams were compared to those in northern Indiana. My Rhydon and Arcanine were routinely stronger than any other in the area in terms of CP. One time while doing a raid two years back some stranger complimented my Rhydon’s power. Back here in California, however, my team is average at best.

Niantic recently added an option to spend some Coins in the game to change your team affiliation, which I’m sure many were hoping to do back in the early days of the game, when Team Instinct’s yellow colors were few and far between. Nowadays I see a well balanced mix of Red, Blue, and Yellow gyms and trainers throughout the area. This has made it much nicer to play, too, since now I can actually see my team’s gyms much more frequently (and tend to keep Pokemon in said gyms much longer).

Lastly, and perhaps the most notable about Pokemon Go’s longevity are the Community Day events held each month. During these events, one particular Pokemon appears much more frequently for a period of three hours. Likewise, any research events (mini-tasks or quests you can complete to earn rewards – another great feature update!) earned during these events always pertain to catching said special Pokemon.

I’ve actively only done maybe five Community Day events, but damn, tons of people still show up for them. I think at a large park we go to near our place, there has to be at least 150 people walking around on their phones playing! It’s pretty cool to see so many fans of the game enjoying themselves! Groups will talk about Pokemon, chat about their teams, shout out when they see a special shiny Pokemon they caught, and in general just have a great time. It’s also worth noting a vast majority of players at these events (and presumably the larger player base entirely) are well over the age of teenagers. 30’ish years old is likely the average age I’d see, and I think it’s absolutely wonderful!

Pokemon Go has assuredly slowed down since launch. There aren’t hundreds of people playing on street corners and in parks every day of the week. Rather, the players that are left have created communities that have a passionate hobby in common. They are enjoying a game that really came into it’s own about two years after launch. It is rewarding to see a game appeal to such a large demographic of players, and even more special when those players are also getting active with their game.

I’m hoping to see even more generations of Pokemon released in the future (I really can’t wait to catch a Trubbish. I mean… I really can’t wait!). The recent Team Rocket addition to the game is a great new way to engage players, and it introduced another completely optional side quest and special Pokemon type to hunt. Community Days are still fun, engaging ways to interact with the game and my friend group, as well as bond with fellow players. The recent release of Niantic’s Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (and the abysmal performance during it’s first month) only made me love and appreciate what the Pokemon Go game has done over the years.

Are you still playing Pokemon Go? Have you been playing since Day One, or did you pick it up afterward? More importantly, what is your favorite Pokemon you’ve caught so far? Mine is probably my shiny Psyduck named Wiggum. He’s great, haha.



I've been writing about video games for years and playing them even longer. You'll find me playing all types of games, old and new. Mega Man III is greater than Mega Man II.