Nothing else can be Pokemon Go

Remember that glorious summer when absolutely everyone was playing Pokemon Go? I’m sorry for making you feel old, but that was seven years ago. Many people had stopped playing by the end of that summer, but many hadn’t. The mobile game remains a huge moneymaker for Niantic, making billions for the studio every single year.

When a game makes this much money year after year, the studio responsible will naturally be hard at work trying to figure out why. Once they do, they can apply the magic formula to other projects. The problem is with Pokemon Go, the magic spell can’t be applied to anything else and Niantic needs to stop trying to make the next Pokemon Go.

RELATED: Monster Hunter has now finally convinced me to switch from Pokemon Go

Niantic has managed to get its hands on some pretty massive IP in its attempts to replicate the magic of Pokemon Go. Of course every other studio, series and franchise on the planet wants a piece of that action. It used to be Harry Potter, but it’s also partnered with the NBA, and even Marvel has been trying to get a piece of the pie. Marvel’s Pokemon Go-style game will never see the light of day, canceled before it even had a release date as Niantic let more than 200 employees go.

wonderful world of heroes

Niantic has had less and less success with each passing attempt to make the next Pokemon Go. Wizards Unite lasted about two-and-a-half years before shutting down, the NBA All-World run will end just eight months when it closes in September, and Marvel’s World Of Heroes, well, we’ve talked about that. However, Pokemon Go moves forward and there is a very simple reason for what its creators need to be able to see.

Ever since I first played Pokemon Blue, I’ve dreamed of being able to go out into the real world and catch real Pokemon. Back then, and for the next 20 years, I figured the games I played would be the closest we’d ever come. Then Niantic announced Pokemon Go. A game where you can go out into the world and catch Pokemon. An unattainable reality that millions of us have longed for for two decades. So much so that lapsed fans have returned, though some of them didn’t stay long.

Pokémon Go London

Do you know what no one has dreamed of for any length of time? Go out into the world and find traces of magic, or wander around your neighborhood looking for famous basketball players to… make friends? Sorry, I’m not entirely sure what the NBA All-World goal is. Suffice to say, trying to apply the same Pokemon Go paint to basketball and the wizarding world was never going to work. Sure, many of us have wanted to go to Hogwarts, play in the NBA, or even know what it feels like to be a superhero, but none of those feelings can be replicated using the Pokemon Go formula.

The lightning in a bottle that Niantic has captured with Pokemon Go is not that people can go for a walk with a game based on their favorite IP in their pocket. Is that the IP that the game was made from is one where the whole premise is exploring the world in search of rare creatures, trying to catch them all. This seems to be the fundamental misconception here at Niantic. It’s not what the game is about, it’s what that game requires you to do. Catching Pokemon in the real world is good. Going around looking for superheroes hits differently, but not in a good way.

Two Pokemon Go avatars high five each other and wearing 7th anniversary avatar items

That said, Niantic may have finally figured this out and teamed up with a series that could actually work. Monster hunter. Despite the cancellation of two games already this year, Monster Hunter Now will still launch in September. A game very similar to Pokemon where, you guessed it, you hunt monsters. Its similarities to Pokemon mean it could work. That is unless Niantic expects the same popularity and revenue it continues to receive from Pokemon Go. The formula may be successfully applied to Monster Hunter, but it won’t bring billions to the studio.

My fear is that Niantic will expect big things from Monster Hunter Now and that too will eventually bite the dust just like almost everything that has come before. Maybe if it can at least outrun Wizards Unite and Niantic’s other failed projects, which it absolutely should, it has a chance. After that, Niantic would do well to focus its efforts more on Pokemon Go rather than trying to figure out what the next Pokemon Go might be.

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