I wasn't around for the first couple of weeks of Pokémon Go, because I was overseas and the data was turned off on my phone. I can tell you, however, that some of my friends who are not cheapskates were catching Squirtles in the baths of Neptune at Ostia!
I downloaded Pokémon Go after returning home, and I've quickly become hooked. It's partially that the game is nostalgic and I remember playing it with my brother when we were kids. But I'm slowly figuring out what really appeals to me: Pokémon offers many things to collect (obviously) and also an endless hill to climb, because you can catch, hatch, and evolve increasingly powerful monsters as you level up. It is like a real-world JRPG with opponents who are constantly grinding just like you are. If you know me, you know I have a tough time resisting games that offer collectibles and constant improvement. I have to be very careful when playing video games with collectibles.
Right now, Pokémon Go is offering me an addictive grind, but I worry that this same grind will eventually kill all of the fun of the game. Because I know that I will catch more powerful Pokémon as my level improves, I'm holding off on evolutions and hoarding candies for too long. I'm afraid I'll evolve that Eevee I just caught—my most powerful yet—and then find an even better one that will make me wish I had waited. And because others got a head start on the game, I'm having a hard time building a team of monsters that makes me feel like I have a real chance at one of the local Pokémon gyms. How long can the fun of a game last if all you do is grind? Will I ultimately feel that my efforts were worth it, or is this a phase that will eventually burn itself out?
There are a couple of things that I wish were different about Pokémon Go, and that I think would improve my experience.
1. Better ways to level up Pokémon that I already have. What was the point of starting out with a 12 CP Charmander that I might as well just trade in for the candy? It's hard to develop emotional attachments to your monsters when you know that you need to be out catching bigger and better ones.
2. Alternative ways to acquire breed-specific candy. Again, I picked a Charmander starter because I love Charmander. But I have yet to hatch one or see one in the wild. I won't be able to evolve any Charmander without catching a LOT more, and the odds of that aren't too good. It gets kind of depressing if you think about it too much.
3. Ways to communicate with local members of my faction (Go Team Mystic!). I'm part of a faction, but I don't really feel that bond with other players. It would be really cool for us to be able to find each other and work together in a more coordinated way, at least locally. I know there are other Team Mystic players nearby because they keep fighting with Team Instinct over the local gyms, but I still feel like a lone ranger over here.
4. Ways to train your monsters (or at least practice battling) without going to a gym. Gym battling is more involved than just flicking a few Poké Balls at a would-be new acquisition. I'd like a chance to practice with my friends, using monsters who might not be the 1000+ CP beasts guarding the nearest gym. It would be great to enter into one-on-one practice matches with friends (or strangers) nearby.
So here's where I'm at right now: I'm probably going to spend a couple of hours playing Pokémon Go today, but I'm not sure how much I truly love it. Will I always be chasing that elusive newer, better Pokémon? Or will I finally settle on a team that I can nurture and train, a team whose members I bother to nickname? The answer to these questions will determine how long Pokémon Go keeps my attention.