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Blog: Pokemon Go, and the good things that can come from bad UI

PopCap Seattle UI/UX expert Chris Furniss argues how Pokemon Go’s confusing UI is applying meaningful friction and is feeding into the dense social experience of the game. …


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Nintendo’s stock drops as investors learn it didn’t create Pokemon Go

Nintendo’s stock value has begun a rapid descent following the company’s message to investors last Friday that the remarkable success of Pokemon Go likely won’t have much effect on its bottom line. …


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Pokémon Go Was A Force At San Diego Comic-Con 2016

This week's San Diego Comic-Con is behind us, and while we received a ton of trailers, teasers, and even some cool announcements, the one inescapable element of San Diego Comic-Con 2016 was Pokémon Go. No matter where I went or what I was doing, the Pocket Monster app was somewhere close by.

Aside from the obvious fact that the app has far transcended the typical Pokémon audience and the fact that I was going to one of the largest nerd culture gatherings in the world, the first indication that Pokémon Go was going to be the biggest thing at Comic-Con was the abundance of lures placed on the Wednesday night before SDCC opened its doors. The Gaslamp Quarter around the San Diego Convention Center is full of PokéStops, and the SDCC attendees took full advantage of that fact. That's when I knew that devoted trainers would not be shirking their duties in the name of SDCC.

All throughout the week, you couldn't walk any distance without hearing someone talking about Pokémon Go. People stopped in the middle of the show floor to catch monsters, attendees sought out WiFi and areas with strong reception to try and pick up a GPS signal to play, and one of the most common conversations on the floor revolved around how poor the cell service was and how disappointed they were that they couldn't catch Pokémon between their other SDCC activities. In my final moments on the show floor I heard a vendor sadly tell another that because the service was so bad on the show floor, he missed out on a Dratini and a Magneton. Again, these instances weren't me walking up to people and asking them about Pokémon Go; this was just what you heard as you walked from booth to booth.

The lure scene on any given night in downtown San Diego during SDCC

I also noticed an increased interest in all things Pokémon at the show. Collectibles related to the franchise seemed to sell out faster than other adjacent products, while some booths took advantage of the new interest and charged a premium on some Pokémon merchandise. On multiple occasions during parties, I heard people cry out that a coveted Pokémon was present. Of course, that led to the majority of party-goers to whip out their phones to catch the nearby Squirtle or Pikachu.

By now, we've all seen businesses cater towards Pokémon Go players, but it was even more intense in San Diego this past week. Restaurants had Pokémon Go-themed food specials, promises of lures being thrown down with every purchase, and even discounts for those who show the waitstaff their Pokédex. Of course this is nothing new, but the number of participating restaurants and bars participating in such specials skyrocketed during this time. We've been saying that this is a smart business move since the app first appeared, and with so many people who are predisposed to love Pokémon Go in San Diego for the convention, it only made sense that a ton of restaurants would take advantage of that to help them stick out from the crowd.

But I get it: SDCC is a huge convention focused on nerd culture. This is all to be expected. But what about the fact that nearly every interview or panel that I attended had some discussion about the app? In addition, it actually caught me off-guard when I took an Uber and the driver didn't make a remark like "Did you catch anything good?" The answer was almost always "yes," seeing as how lures were everywhere. I remember arriving at a bar looking distraught. When my friend asked me what was wrong, I angrily said, "The Kadabra got away because the stupid app froze." 

When I spoke with Gears of War 4 lead voice actor Liam McIntyre, we spent five minutes discussing how to be more effective at collecting creatures and the ins and outs of gym battles. Before he jumped on the Gears of War 4 panel, Gears of War co-creator Rod Fergusson made a quick remark that McIntyre was playing Pokémon Go backstage, to which McIntyre joked, "I don't mean to alarm anyone, but there are several Doduos in this room." 

During the South Park panel, a question was asked during the Q&A session about whether we'd be seeing a Chinpokomon Go episode of South Park. Series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone laughed and said that they actually felt they already did given that the premise of the Chinpokomon episode was that the Chinpokomon brainwash children to travel around and catch all of the creatures while Japan collected data on us.

I spoke with voice actors Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke (SpongeBob and Patrick on SpongeBob Squarepants) and we spent their first five minutes with me talking about the app. Kenny joked that we could talk about Pokémon Go all night instead of the interview.

My favorite moment on this topic came when I encountered a small group of cosplayers who were dressed as PokéStops. Even before I ran into them, I had heard about them from three or four different people on the show floor. Anything that was Pokémon Go-related seemed to get amazing traction at the show as the app and franchise sit comfortably in the front of everyone's mind.

The craze surrounding Pokémon Go at SDCC 2016 was most evident during the final day when the panel was so in-demand that hundreds of people were unable to enter before the talk concluded. This was already after Comic-Con International bumped up the room size for the panel to its biggest area: the massive Hall H. Prior to the panel kicking off, rumors swirled about what would be announced at the talk. Speculation and rumors that the first Legendary creature was going to be revealed were so prevalent, many thought them to be fact. Some even asserted that not only would the first Legendary monster be revealed at the panel, but everyone in attendance would be given the opportunity to catch it. It was amazing how many times I heard these rumors.

Of course, those rumors never amounted to anything, but it was amazing to watch it all unfold. It was fun to be a part of the experience, just as it was fun to witness how this cultural phenomenon reached its fever pitch during the enormous celebration of nerd culture that is San Diego Comic-Con. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Niantic Reveals Pokémon Go’s Team Leaders

Niantic revealed at San Diego Comic-Con today the three team leaders in Pokémon Go, who up until now were only shown as silhouettes in-game.

The panel, which was led by Niantic chief executive John Hanke, showed the audience the designs of these characters. He confirmed that Team Valor is headed by Candela, Blanche is in charge of Team Mystic, and Spark leads Team Instinct.

The panel also discussed some additions Niantic has under consideration, but none of these are confirmed just yet. Niantic brought up the possiblity of Pokémon Centers, along with the inclusion of trading, though the team mentioned that stabilizing the servers would be a priority beforehand.

Pokémon Go released about three weeks ago, and its since taken the world by storm, though it's also had plenty of server issues. As of last week, it released in Japan.

 

Our Take
Pokémon Go players are already incredibly attached to their teams, and having a face behind each now will only add to that enthusiasm. I can't wait to see fans cosplay as these leaders.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Pokémon Go Was A Force At San Diego Comic-Con 2016

This week's San Diego Comic-Con is behind us, and while we received a ton of trailers, teasers, and even some cool announcements, the one inescapable element of San Diego Comic-Con 2016 was Pokémon Go. No matter where I went or what I was doing, the Pocket Monster app was somewhere close by.

Aside from the obvious fact that the app has far transcended the typical Pokémon audience and the fact that I was going to one of the largest nerd culture gatherings in the world, the first indication that Pokémon Go was going to be the biggest thing at Comic-Con was the abundance of lures placed on the Wednesday night before SDCC opened its doors. The Gaslamp Quarter around the San Diego Convention Center is full of PokéStops, and the SDCC attendees took full advantage of that fact. That's when I knew that devoted trainers would not be shirking their duties in the name of SDCC.

All throughout the week, you couldn't walk any distance without hearing someone talking about Pokémon Go. People stopped in the middle of the show floor to catch monsters, attendees sought out WiFi and areas with strong reception to try and pick up a GPS signal to play, and one of the most common conversations on the floor revolved around how poor the cell service was and how disappointed they were that they couldn't catch Pokémon between their other SDCC activities. In my final moments on the show floor I heard a vendor sadly tell another that because the service was so bad on the show floor, he missed out on a Dratini and a Magneton. Again, these instances weren't me walking up to people and asking them about Pokémon Go; this was just what you heard as you walked from booth to booth.

The lure scene on any given night in downtown San Diego during SDCC

I also noticed an increased interest in all things Pokémon at the show. Collectibles related to the franchise seemed to sell out faster than other adjacent products, while some booths took advantage of the new interest and charged a premium on some Pokémon merchandise. On multiple occasions during parties, I heard people cry out that a coveted Pokémon was present. Of course, that led to the majority of party-goers to whip out their phones to catch the nearby Squirtle or Pikachu.

By now, we've all seen businesses cater towards Pokémon Go players, but it was even more intense in San Diego this past week. Restaurants had Pokémon Go-themed food specials, promises of lures being thrown down with every purchase, and even discounts for those who show the waitstaff their Pokédex. Of course this is nothing new, but the number of participating restaurants and bars participating in such specials skyrocketed during this time. We've been saying that this is a smart business move since the app first appeared, and with so many people who are predisposed to love Pokémon Go in San Diego for the convention, it only made sense that a ton of restaurants would take advantage of that to help them stick out from the crowd.

But I get it: SDCC is a huge convention focused on nerd culture. This is all to be expected. But what about the fact that nearly every interview or panel that I attended had some discussion about the app? In addition, it actually caught me off-guard when I took an Uber and the driver didn't make a remark like "Did you catch anything good?" The answer was almost always "yes," seeing as how lures were everywhere. I remember arriving at a bar looking distraught. When my friend asked me what was wrong, I angrily said, "The Kadabra got away because the stupid app froze." 

When I spoke with Gears of War 4 lead voice actor Liam McIntyre, we spent five minutes discussing how to be more effective at collecting creatures and the ins and outs of gym battles. Before he jumped on the Gears of War 4 panel, Gears of War co-creator Rod Fergusson made a quick remark that McIntyre was playing Pokémon Go backstage, to which McIntyre joked, "I don't mean to alarm anyone, but there are several Doduos in this room." 

During the South Park panel, a question was asked during the Q&A session about whether we'd be seeing a Chinpokomon Go episode of South Park. Series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone laughed and said that they actually felt they already did given that the premise of the Chinpokomon episode was that the Chinpokomon brainwash children to travel around and catch all of the creatures while Japan collected data on us.

I spoke with voice actors Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke (SpongeBob and Patrick on SpongeBob Squarepants) and we spent their first five minutes with me talking about the app. Kenny joked that we could talk about Pokémon Go all night instead of the interview.

My favorite moment on this topic came when I encountered a small group of cosplayers who were dressed as PokéStops. Even before I ran into them, I had heard about them from three or four different people on the show floor. Anything that was Pokémon Go-related seemed to get amazing traction at the show as the app and franchise sit comfortably in the front of everyone's mind.

The craze surrounding Pokémon Go at SDCC 2016 was most evident during the final day when the panel was so in-demand that hundreds of people were unable to enter before the talk concluded. This was already after Comic-Con International bumped up the room size for the panel to its biggest area: the massive Hall H. Prior to the panel kicking off, rumors swirled about what would be announced at the talk. Speculation and rumors that the first Legendary creature was going to be revealed were so prevalent, many thought them to be fact. Some even asserted that not only would the first Legendary monster be revealed at the panel, but everyone in attendance would be given the opportunity to catch it. It was amazing how many times I heard these rumors.

Of course, those rumors never amounted to anything, but it was amazing to watch it all unfold. It was fun to be a part of the experience, just as it was fun to witness how this cultural phenomenon reached its fever pitch during the enormous celebration of nerd culture that is San Diego Comic-Con. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Massive — Pokémon Go: An Experience In Need Of Evolution

Massively multiplayer online games are sprawling beasts that grow, improve, and change direction over time. Because of their scope and longevity, approaching them from a traditional review standpoint isn’t often the best fit. Enter Massive, our approach to analyzing and evaluating massively multiplayer online games.

Pokémon Go is everywhere. From giant park gatherings to businesses springing for Pokémon-attracting lures to boost business, everyone from curious kids to white-collar lawyers taking lunch breaks are whipping out their phones for a chance to catch one. Building on the framework of its previous augmented-reality game Ingress, Niantic has created a genuine global phenomenon fueled by the beloved IP that has been around for ages.

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play exploration title for smartphones that syncs up and integrates into players’ real lives, motivating them to seek out landmarks, points of interest, and other neat spots in cities that may be off the beaten path, with the goal of catching the classic creatures that have made Pokémon a hit brand for more than two decades. 

Playing the game is easy. Simply download the game on your phone, and you’re ready to start finding creatures in the real world. Your phone buzzes when a Pokémon is nearby, and then with a quick touch you lob Pokéballs at the creature until you capture it or it escapes. Players have the option to do these catches in augmented reality, i.e. the little creature will show up on your phone screen in the real world, either on your friend’s shoulder or maybe hanging out in a tree. Finding Pokémon in places both common and unusual makes for great social media fare, as nothing is quite as humorous as finding a Dratini in the bathtub or a Grimer in your toilet.

Players get a good overview of the area you’re in on the map on their phone to find points of interest, either Pokéstops to replenish your supplies or gyms to battle with your Pokémon roster. The area continually updates and changes as you move in various directions. Walking is critical to hatching Pokémon eggs that you find at Pokéstops, so even if you try to game the system by driving around town (DO NOT drive and play this game, it’s very dangerous!) there’s motivation to actually get out, walk, and interact with other players and places.

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Other people are essential to the Pokémon Go experience. Whether you’re simply meeting another player during an epic catch, hanging out in a crowd during a lure party, or forging a friendly rivalry with several opposing teams outside of a local gym, interaction with the community is a driving force behind the shared experience. The sheer diversity in crowds is a testimony to the game’s accessibility, and is a major boon. Not everyone wants to engage with gym battles, but running around town or the local mall to find rare Pokémon touches some primal nerve, which is fun for everyone while scratching that collector/completionist itch. I’ve seen everything from families and children to actual gangs of teens on bikes and random 20- and 40-year-olds camping at the same lured location.

Pokémon Go is a massive hit for those looking for a social MMO experience that bleeds into reality. While players can skip the social aspects of the game (I’ve seen plenty of folks that just want to play their own game privately out on the sidewalk), it adds a neat element to the experience that you can’t find in your living room. Meeting and interacting with real people is essentially a game mechanic. Rivalries that form over local gyms can lead to interesting banter and friendly conflicts that last weeks. Alternatively, just using it as a gamification gimmick to go outside and move around to play games is an effective and fun way to incorporate physical activity into a day.

Power lies in the simplicity of the game. Right now, the focus is on finding Pokémon, throwing balls at them until you catch them, and maybe laying siege to a few gyms. This allows anyone, even people aren’t intimately familiar with Pokémon, to dive into the game immediately and begin catching them and interacting with others doing the same. 

The combat system is barebones and uninteresting. Lackluster tap mechanics streamline combat to the point that some sort of autobattle system would be preferable, as there is no depth to it. That’s not an utter condemnation of the game, however, as the real fun is tied to the social component of bringing teams together to capture gyms or develop a rivalry with another team. Pokémon Go is, in some ways, what you make of it. However, factors like where you live and how social you want to be with other players contribute to the experience.

While a wonderfully immersive experience for players in metropolis, it’s also a massive miss for players stuck out in the country where there’s no Pokémon to find or Pokéstops to visit, or those lacking a data plan on their phones (you require an internet connection to play), but the overall choice to stick Pokémon on mobile-GPS ready cell phones is a big hit. While it will drain your battery down to nothing in just a few hours, it’s surprisingly light on data usage, so you should be able to incorporate gameplay into your life without incurring extra fees.

Server stability can often be an issue for big MMOs and Pokémon Go is no exception. Server issues have been a continual, serious problem. While it’s easy to attribute these problems to the overwhelming popularity and success of the game out the gates, it’s still disappointing — especially when you plan a day trip to meet with hundreds or thousands of players and then the servers stop working.

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Irritating bugs also continue to plague Pokémon Go. Due to freezes and other bizarre quirks that require hard resets, I’ve had to force close the app more than any other game and software I’ve ever used. Being unable to group transfer Pokémon leads to marathon sessions of annoyance where each garbage Pidgey needs to be broken down individually, which could have been fixed easily with a group selector. However, it’s an incredible testimony to the pervasiveness of Pokémon Go that people are willing to put up with issues that would bury other games in a heartbeat.

Some of the issues are exacerbated by the paid item shop, which is optional. Many items available for purchase provide boons like lures to attract Pokémon for everyone outside of a Pokéstop, personal use incense that bring more Pokémon right to you, or experience-boosting eggs. Purchasing and using these at an unfortunate time can lead to horrible instances where time-based items are essentially wasted when the servers go down, or the game freezes up. You’re out of luck and out of your investment. 

A few weeks after launch, Pokémon Go is like a Magikarp. It’s floundering around and making a splash, but has the potential to evolve into something epic (like a Gyarados, for the initiated). Niantic has a roadmap for continued support, with trading, battles, raids, new Pokémon, and more on the horizon. 

Pokémon Go has the potential to redefine the concept of the modern MMORPG and has the opportunity to take us to amazing new places, but whether we go there or not will depend on Niantic’s post-launch support and major updates. 

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Reader Discussion: What’s Your Crazy Pokémon Go Story?

Pokémon Go has captivated the masses. It's hard to go anywhere without seeing people playing it or hearing them talk about it. Niantic and Nintendo's latest app has come with its share of blessings, from getting people socializing to exercising, but we've also seen some weird and not-so-great occurrences, such as robberies and walking off cliffs, since its launch.

Recently, we compiled a list of some of the most bizarre stories thus far, but what's more amazing is just how everyone has their own stories about the popular app. I figured it would cool to share some of those with one another. For instance, I never expected my mom who isn't tech savvy to ask about it, or when I'm getting my coffee to have baristas ask me if I'm playing it. What's really amazed me is how this game is bringing people together, and has totally enamored a mainstream audience in a way that I haven't seen as long as I've been gaming. 

So, do you have a crazy story? How about something that has surprised you about it?

Tell your stories in the comments below, so we can all weigh in on how this surprising phenomenon has affected us.

For more on Pokémon Go, check out our recent impressions and podcast discussion on it. 

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Data Miners Have Allegedly Uncovered Pokémon Go’s Deepest Secrets

Data miners from the fan site Pokémon Fortress have allegedly unearthed a multitude of Pokémon Go's secrets, from the level cap to whether Ditto is truly out there or not.

Pokémon Go has become a cultural phenomenon since its launch earlier this month, but it's also been plagued with server issues. Read more about our impressions of the augmented reality mobile game by heading here, and discover all the strange and crazy stories we've heard about the game here.

Warning: If you'd rather find these secrets out yourself, don't read any further!

Here are all the findings, as seen on Pokémon Fortress:

  • The Trainer Level Cap is 40.
  • Egg's cap at Level 20, so if you get an Egg at Level 37 it'll still hatch at the same quality as if you were level 20.
  • Wild Pokemon cap at Level 30, meaning after Level 30 everyone will find the same max CP Pokemon and it'll be a matter of spending the candy and stardust to upgrade them to your level's cap based on their CP arc.
  • There is an achievement/badge rank above gold.
  • Curveballs and Accurate Throws (Nice, Great, Etc) have been confirmed as helping with the capture chance of a Pokeball throw.
  • There may be future Incubators that reduce the amount of kilometers needed before they hatch. (There is an incubator called "distance" in the code)
  • Moves have an Accuracy and a Critical Hit Rate.
  • Each unique Pokemon has it's own Capture and Flee rate.
  • Move Damage may go up with Trainer Level.
  • Pokemon do become harder to catch as you level up.
  • Mewtwo, Moltres, Zapdos, Articuno are Legendary.
  • Mew is Mythic.
  • Farfetch'd is out there… somewhere. As is Ditto.
  • The Charge Meter is filled 0.5 for each 1 HP of damage dealt. This means a super effective move that does more damage will charge the special attack faster – that is actually really important to know.
  • To level from 39 to 40 takes FIVE MILLION EXPERIENCE, and going from 1 to 40 takes Twenty Million. On my best day I can get about one hundred thousand exp, maybe 125k. So that's like 3-4 months to go from 39 to 40. Won't be seeing that any time soon!
  • Pokemon have a base Attack, Defense and Stamina (HP) – thus they do not have a Attack and Special Attack stat like in the 3DS games.
  • Dragonite has the strongest base attack for non-legends, at 250.
  • MewTwo has a base attack of 284.
  • Moltres has the highest base attack of the three legendary birds.
  • Articuno has the highest base defense of the three.
  • Zapdos is almost as high as Moltres in base attack but is likely lower due to Type Advantage.
  • Pokemon have an evolution modifier AND a HP modifier when they evolve both CP and HP go up a set multiplier.
  • Defending Pokemon at a Gym attack every 1.5 seconds.
  • The Master Ball is in the game, no clue where it is found.
  • The Legendary Pokemon do have a spawn rate – BUT – they have no capture rate, could this mean they require a Master Ball?
  • STAB is present in the game, giving a 25% Bonus to an attack move. STAB stands for "Same Type Attack Bonus" and means if a Grass Pokemon uses a Grass move it will hit harder than if a Ground Pokemon used the same Grass move. This is a big deal confirmation.

[Source: Pokémon Fortress]

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Despite radical success, Pokemon Go won’t affect Nintendo’s bottom line

Nintendo clarifies that its ownership stake in The Pokemon Company won’t be drastically rewriting its financial bottom line. …


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Pokemon Go is popular but polarizing, according to Nielsen data

Surprise: Market research firm Nielsen claims Pokemon Go has quickly become the most interesting and well-liked mobile game in the U.S., even as it registers higher-than-average rejection rates. …


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