It probably won’t surprise you that I’ve spent quite a bit of the last week playing Pokémon Go. I downloaded it within hours of its official UK release; the screenshot shows how far I’ve got, and overall, I’m level 11. This is mostly through capturing Pokémon on the way to and from work, and on my lunch break.
Christine has been playing it a little longer. She has an Android phone, and so she was able to sideload the APK file from a third-party web site prior to its official release on the Google Play Store. She’s therefore slightly ahead of me, and has had the benefit of being on maternity leave to have more time to catch Pokémon.
I’m enjoying it, although it is further exacerbating my iPhone’s battery issues. As I write this, Pokémon Go has used 51% of my battery over the past 24 hours. Even before last week, I was struggling to get through a full day on one charge. To be fair, I use multiple Bluetooth devices with my phone, and use it on a train journey with frequent tunnels. So my iPhone’s battery was already getting a strong workout even before I started playing. But, notice how my phone was already down to 61% before 9am in the screenshot.
I haven’t added any Pokémon to gyms yet, and have only played a couple of battles. I’m waiting until I’ve collected more, and had the chance to upgrade or evolve them. Many of the nearby gyms have Pokémon with combat power over 1000 already, and my best is under 800.
It’s been fascinating to see how much of a phenomenon Pokémon Go has become. It’s already outperforming many other social apps, including Twitter and Tinder, in terms of how long people use it. And the news has been full of stories, both good and bad, about the game and its players. I never played Ingress, its spiritual predecessor, but I had friends who did. It seems that Niantic, its developer, has found the perfect balance between Ingress’ gameplay, and the popularity of the Pokémon franchise.
I don’t know how long I’ll keep playing. At the moment I’m still discovering new Pokémon and enjoying levelling them up – even if I’m sick of always finding Drowzees everywhere. Maybe the game will become less fun or stale after a while, but at the moment I like it.