Pokémon Go can’t sit idly if it want to keep … well, going.
The free-to-play app has quickly become a money-making phenomenon. But as fun as the mobile, location-based game is, it could still use extra features. Adding new content will not only make the experience better, but it will ensure that all of those millions of Pokémon Go players keep using the app. It could mean the difference between Pokémon Go being a fad and a long-term success.
Below, we’ve listed five features that we want to see added to Niantic’s game.
More avatar customization
Right now, you can customize your avatar when you start playing, but you can’t earn more clothes or items. Even your initial options are limited. Unless you already look like a slim, teenage anime character, chances are good that your Pokémon Go avatar isn’t going to look a lot like you.
More initial choices would be great, but it would also be fun if you could get more customization items as you play. Imagine if you had a small chance to unlock a new hat every time you went to a Pokéstop. It would encourage even more travelling than already does.
You’ll probably run into a lot of other Pokémon Go players, but you can’t really do much with them. It would be fun if the app had some sort of friends list or something. Maybe it could even let you know when people you’ve registered are nearby. Pokémon Go could give a bonus to experience points earned or something like that if you travel in a group with friends. It would be nice to see features that do more to encourage people to play Pokémon Go socially.
Of course, once you have friends, it would be nice if you could actually trade Pokémon with them. Developer Niantic has said that this feature is coming, so hopefully we don’t have to wait long. Trading has always been a core component of the series, ever since we were using cables to link up our Game Boys in 1998.
Trading would be much easier these days, since we can easily connect with friends near and far on our smart phones. It would also make us more invested in how well are friends are doing in their adventures, since they could capture a Pokémon we might want to make an offer for.
Battles are another multiplayer component that Pokémon Go is missing. Again, it’s a core feature of the original games, and it’s something that Niantic says is coming. Right now, you can only fight Pokémon by battling those left by other trainers at gyms, so it’s not really a social experience.
I don’t think that battles should be an important mechanic of Pokémon Go. I like that the experience is more about exploring and collecting. But it would give us a way to interact with friends and other people we meet while playing. I can even imagine groups meeting in parks to participate in their own tournaments if the combat system is fun enough,
Pokémon Go tells you when Pokémon are nearby, but the system is confusing. It uses icons (that look like footprints) to tell you how close one is. Three footprints mean that its far away, while one means you’re close.
But it’s hard to know when you’re going in the right direction. I wish that the system could be more precise. I understand that it wants to encourage us to explore, so simply marking every nearby Pokémon on the map wold ruin the experience. Still, it can be frustrating to walk around aimlessly trying to get three footprints down to two, only to have the Pokémon disappear or realize it’s on someone’s private property. It would even help if clicking the Pokémon we want to track shows us a possible radius of where it could be hiding.