As today’s Easter Eggstravaganza event draws to a close, I find myself thinking about not just future events for Pokémon GO, but also future generations. We are now deep into Gen 2, which debuted about eight months after the Gen 1 original version of the game, and though Gen 3 is still a long ways off, most likely, someone asked me an interesting question on Twitter yesterday.
What would be the pros or cons or a full reset for Gen 3 or beyond in Pokémon GO?
Honestly, it’s a question I’d never really considered before. I guess I always assumed that Pokémon GO would stay Pokémon GO, and Niantic would just keep dumping new features and generations into it indefinitely.
But obviously that’s not how Pokémon usually works. Certainly not in the handheld games, where each new generation is essentially a fresh start for the player, though there are certain instances where you can trade Pokémon between generations.
The question was whether or not that would ever work for Pokémon GO, where Niantic just says “We’re making Pokémon GO 2,” which would be an entirely new app which would start everyone at zero.
What would be the pros for this kind of “sequel” starting in say, Gen 3? It took me a little while to think of some, given all you would lose, but I can see an argument to a certain extent.
– It would reset everyone to an even playing field, perhaps drawing in lapsed or new players who simply can’t compete with those who have amassed full Pokedexes and are sitting on level 10 gyms with high CP Pokémon infinitely more powerful than their own.
– It would de-clutter the game as it would just introduce only Gen 3 Pokémon, and which ever Pokémon from previous generations it would be prudent to bring forward. Otherwise, Gen 3 brings the grand total to 386 Pokémon, Gen 4 is 493, then 649, then 721, then 802 in Gen 7 with Sun and Moon. At some point, it feels like you’d have to start wiping the slate clean a bit.
– It would allow a fundamental rebuilding of the app, a ground-up rework of the game in a way that continued minor updates may not be able to address. It may not need that now, but in a year or two? Perhaps.
– A reset can actually be fun sometimes. I was glad to hear nothing from Destiny would be carried over from Destiny 2 because I miss the ability to go through those early levels and discover things for the first time. Starting Gen 3 fresh with 40+ levels and 300+ Pokémon ahead of you could actually be a lot of fun, as Gen 1 and 2 progress grinds to a halt.
But while I can see the argument, I have to believe that this kind of huge shift or reset would not be in the cards for Pokémon GO. Why? Here are the counter-reasons I can come up with, which seem pretty apparent:
– Nintendo keeps releasing new, clean-start Pokémon games for a fairly obvious reason: money. Each new release brings with it a hefty cash purchase from the player. Given that Pokémon GO is a free (“free”) app, there’s no real need to do this, given that the game would still only be making money from the same kinds of microtransactions, not new sales.
– Pokémon GO has been an absolutely massive time and energy investment for players, particularly high level, top-tier ones. Even if it meant bringing in newer or lapsed players with a reset, I think it would be unwise to upset the most devoted players of the game, the kind of “whales” who potentially are spending the most money on the product. In this case, it’s not just a simple time investment. Pokémon GO requires actual, physical work, hundreds or even thousands of miles (kilometers) of walking to catch Pokémon, hatch eggs and train buddies. That plus the money people have spent on the app means that no, a hard reset is going to be a Very Bad Thing for many players, and I would not blame many for not wanting to invest in a new version of the app that may itself be obsolete soon enough.
– This really just isn’t how the mobile space works. Yes, you do see multiple apps when it comes to games like Angry Birds or Bloons or what have you, but those are usually level-based games, and they often cost money up front. But if you look to games like Clash of Clans, Clash Royale or Game of War, these “investment” games know that players who have sunk thousands of hours and lots of cash into building bases, armies, decks and what have you are not going to want a “clean slate” wipe with a new app, so they just keep updating themselves. Even though Pokémon GO is a different type of game, it’s a similar kind of high-stakes time/effort/cash investment, and I think Niantic realizes that.
So while yes, Niantic is breaking from handheld tradition by continuing to update one version of the game with new features and generations, that actually makes the most sense in this context, given the mobile format. A clean reset may have some measure of appeal, but ultimately, I think it would do the game more harm than good. Niantic could surprise me and go in this direction someday, but I very much doubt that will be the case.
This article first appeared in Forbes.com