For some, the summer of 2016 will always be remembered for the release of Pokemon Go in the same way the “Summer of ‘69” was memorable for its girls and guitars. To those who played it the most, Pokemon Go was so much more than a game for your smartphone. It’s something which pairs childhood nostalgia with friends, and lets you embark on a digital adventure anywhere in the real world.
The game’s popularity was unmatched when it released in July, with its peak coming at 45 million daily active users according to Apptopia. By August however, Axiom Capital Management had discovered the game had lost 15 million, or one third, of its daily active users.
While the most dedicated of players would continue playing well into the fall, some opened the game very few times, if not uninstalled the application all together. Developer Niantic tried to lure players back into the game through a variety of promotions, including holiday specific events, but the game never regained the spark it had last summer.
On the weekend of February 18th however the once popular Pokemon Go locations around St. Cloud, such as Lake George and St. Cloud State’s campus, began to see players return. A combination of the unseasonably nice weather and the new content added to the game had brought some players back to their old habits of walking around in an attempt to “catch’em all”.
“I’ve been having issues with the snow and finishing generation one, so the release of generation two boosted my interest again” said Kristin Kurup.
Others seemed to share Kurup’s opinion as during the Minnesota winter it seemed impractical to fight the weather conditions for the sake of a simple game. Richard Milla however, who had seen others lose interest in the past few months said, “a lot of my really good friends stopped playing the game, but I never stopped.”
But the decision to keep playing on his own proved to be just as great of an experience for Milla. When his old friends quit playing he said, “[it] helped me meet new people and make new friends thanks to the game.”
The new update brings about 80 new Pokemon and lots of other new content. Those who played Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver on the Gameboy Color in the late 1990’s will likely remember some of the Johto region’s most popular Pokemon such as Chikorita, Cyndaquil, and Totodile who now inhabit Pokemon Go.
Additionally, those who have been away from the game since last summer will also notice the addition of eight new, “Baby Pokemon” and one special purple glob of slime known as Ditto, who have been added since last fall.
The update also includes the new Pinap and Nanab berries which players can obtain from Pokestops. Some Pokemon now can only evolve with special items, which have also been added to the game as well as lots of new outfits to place on your character.
Like any popular game, Pokemon Go was bound to fall prey to a boom in popularity which was unreasonable to maintain. While most of the casually interested players may have moved on, Niantic still has a sizeable player base to be proud of in Pokemon Go. The improved weather conditions spring will bring as well as the new content being recently added, will do much to keep Pokemon trainers busy at local parks throughout 2017.
Bailey is a senior at St. Cloud State University pursuing a B.S. in Marketing with an emphasis on Digital Marketing. He is known to hold overly high expectations for the Minnesota Vikings each season.