Pokémon Go’s 5th Anniversary: Is It Worth Playing?

Gemma Cockrell and James Warrell

Upon release, Pokémon Go received worldwide popularity and player acclaim. Released over 5 years ago, in July 2016Pokémon Go was a smash hit, garnering over 1 billion downloads. Yet 5 years later, opinions on the game remain split, with some hardcore supporters and some Pokémon fans that don’t claim the game as part of the franchise. Gemma and James debate: is Pokémon Go worth playing 5 years after its release?

Gemma says YES…

After five years, I am still an avid Pokémon Go player. Admittedly, I haven’t played it consistently since 2016. I deleted it after the initial summer it was released, then redownloaded it briefly in 2018, before returning to the game in 2020 during lockdown when all we could do was go on daily walks. I thought having a game to play whilst walking would spice things up a bit.

Now, there is a huge array of Pokémon you can find.

I was surprised to notice just how much the game had changed in such a short two-year period. The concept was still the same – you go outdoors, catch Pokémon, spin Pokéstops and battle gyms. However, in the early days, I remember only ever finding the more ‘basic’ Pokémon like Pidgey, Rattata and Zubat in the wild. Now, there is a huge array of Pokémon you can find – even some pretty rare and interesting ones.

Also, the game now frequently hosts event days, something I don’t remember happening during its early days. My personal favourite is Community Day, where a particular Pokémon will appear in the wild from 11 am until 5 pm, which now occurs monthly. This increases your chances of catching a shiny of that Pokémon, even though this does arguably make the shiny versions more common and easier to catch, and therefore less ‘special’. Regardless, they are still exciting to catch and great additions to your Pokédex.

The game’s introduction of Remote Raid Passes is also a huge factor that has made it more enjoyable to play. This means that you can do 5* raids for legendary Pokémon without even leaving your house. Before, you would have to gather around ten of your friends and meet up at a particular location. Now, as long as you have a Remote Raid Pass, you can find people online via Reddit who will invite you to their raids.

These are the main factors why I think Pokémon Go has stood the test of time since its initial release in 2016 – not only that, but I actually think it is a much better game now than it has ever been before. The features that have been introduced, mainly to make it more accessible during lockdown whilst no one was going out much, have only elevated the game. 

Yes, I know, it isn’t a traditional Pokémon game, but it is undeniably charming in its own right.


James says NO…

Five years on, I am still not a big fan of Pokémon Go. However, I can appreciate that the constant updates and the premise of catching Pokémon in real life are wonderful. It just never hit the mark with me, and I am one of the biggest Pokémon fans you will ever find.

Catching Pokémon, either for pure fun or to get candies, is not engaging enough for me.

There are many reasons Pokémon Go did not hit the mark for me. The main reason is that the initial content never interested me, as many classic Pokémon games did. I attribute this to the slow start and grinding nature of the game. For some, this may be a great way to spend their time. Catching Pokémon, either for pure fun or to get candies, is not engaging enough for me to use my free time to pursue Pokémon Go

Beating the gym’s never felt rewarding enough for me or gave me a sense of accomplishment I felt when beating some of the gym leaders (looking at you Whitney) in the mainline games. Even when I did briefly play Pokémon Go, a long time between updates prevented me from getting into the rhythm of playing every day. The long time between updates has also meant that many people who played since the beginning have either taken extended breaks or never come back.

In conclusion, even with all the new updates and Pokémon, if you did not enjoy the original game, it is unlikely that you will change your mind. However, if you enjoyed the game at first and just took a little break, this may be the time to get back into the groove of things. With a plethora of new updates and constant community support, I cannot help but concede to Gemma that Pokémon Go that for those it did hit that mark for, Pokémon Go is a far superior game to five years ago.

Gemma Cockrell and James Warrell

Featured Image courtesy of steamXO via Flickr. Image license found hereNo changes were made to this image.

In-article video 1 courtesy of Pokémon via @youtube.com. No changes were made to this video.

In-article image 1 courtesy of steamXO via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image 2 courtesy of Darren Mark Domirez via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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