If you've been anywhere near the internet over the past week, or simply out in public, chances are you have either heard of or seen Pokemon GO. This new smash hit title from Niantic is the labor of love from the company behind the popular 'Ingress' augmented reality game, although in just a week's time it's much more popular than Ingress has likely ever been in its entirety. This isn't completely surprising, or it shouldn't be, as Pokemon was already a renowned franchise with many loyal fans and followers for the better part of two decades. Needless to say, Pokemon GO was bound to be a wildly popular game right out of the gate even before it started drumming up loads of hype. If you've not had the chance to test the game out and you're even mildly interested in the Pokemon franchise, it might be worth considering. Having said that, Niantic is going to find it challenging to keep the excitement going for Pokemon GO if they don't add some more features to the game.
As it stands right now, Pokemon GO is more limiting than it could be. It has plenty of potential, but the developers are still exploring various aspects of the game, and while discussing it and having mentioned the interest in creating a Game of Thrones themed version of Pokemon GO, one developer had stated that the players will help shape the game. In its current form, Pokemon GO allows players to explore the vast reaches of their community and beyond to search for, capture, and collect all different types of Pokemon. As you capture Pokemon you can level up your trainer, and gather items that can also help you level up your Pokemon. You can also find locations scattered around that are designated as Pokemon Gyms that can be controlled by one of the three included teams, Team Valor (Red), Team Mystic (Blue), or Team Instinct (Yellow). There is some level of a battle aspect as you can battle your Pokemon against the Pokemon guarding a Gym, but that's it, and beyond that there isn't much else Pokemon GO has well, going for it.
Having said that, Niantic has a huge opportunity to add tons of features that would give the game a lot more replay value, most of them things that are already part of traditional Pokemon games that you can find on various consoles. One huge feature that is missing from Pokemon GO is actual battles. Not battling the Pokemon stationed at Gyms to guard them, but battles between players wherever they are. The whole foundation of Pokemon is battling, so, naturally, this should be implemented at some point. Niantic has stated that they're still exploring how to implement the multiplayer functionaity, so it could just be a matter of when battles would be added. Another missing feature which is pretty huge in the regular Pokemon games is trading. While there are probably around 151 different types of Pokemon in Pokemon GO, you can collect a much larger number than that with multiples of each type if you can find them. This makes for a perfect opportunity to trade with other players. You could hold a few of a certain type of rare pokemon that another trainer might not have, and likewise they could have a type that you want yourself. Let the trading begin.
If you've already started playing Pokemon GO, even if you're not a very high level, you've still passed the point where you create the avatar for your trainer. While there are a few options for customization here, there isn't much, making it so that most people's trainers look relatively the same. Pokemon GO could benefit from having more options for players. Another thing the game could do well with having is better tracking. While not terribly inaccurate, much like Ingress Pokemon GO suffers from tracking issues. This is likely more due to the nature of the GPS signal losing its lock on your location, but a more refined location system is sorely needed, and the game could do with an improvement to the way players track Pokemon they have yet to catch too. Sure, the game is about exploration, so simply walking around and exploring will help you stumble upon different types of Pokemon, but there will be players who could benefit from a simpler description on how close they are to a Pokemon that has popped up on their screen as nearby. Lastly, as Pokemon GO is a game with loads of other players in the real world, many of them being able to interact with each other, it seems like it would just make sense to have more social features. Features like a way for trainers to interact with each other in the game, perhaps through chat if they wanted to set up a meeting point, or possibly a friends list that would allow you to see which of them were currently playing. As the game gets a little bit older, more features will certainly be added as updates are pushed out, hopefully adding to the allure and fun that has swept the globe.