15 Changes Pokémon GO Needs To Make

Pokémon Go logo

A mobile Pokémon game was always bound to be successful, but Niantic’s Pokémon GO has surpassed all expectations; it’s already become one of the most used apps on android and iOS, it’s spawned countless memes and news stories, and jacked up Nintendo’s share prices almost overnight (more good news for a company in desperate need of a boost). Remarkably, Nintendo is now worth $11 billion more than it was just a few short days ago, prior to the release of this worldwide phenomenon. 

Though the game is certainly a game changer, it is still very new, and lacks the polish of Nintendo’s more traditional Pokémon games. Hopefully, this list will soon become moot as the game is progressively updated, but for now, here are the top 15 changes Pokémon GO absolutely has to make.

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14 Fix. The. Servers.

Pokemon Go Server Issues

This one is both the most urgently necessary update in terms of functionality and the most obvious update to everyone playing the game right now. Whether the game hasn’t had enough bug-testing or Niantic didn’t expect so many people to download the app, the Pokémon GO servers are constantly floored, making everything from logging in to finding pPokémon to catching them to battling at gyms slow, tedious, and frustrating.

In a game where players can pay real money for in-game items, this is especially problematic. Imagine paying for an incense, activating it, and then being locked out of the game by slowdown and lag, unable to use what you've bought. Fortunately, the developer has already announced fixes for this problem are on the way. They can’t get here soon enough -- too many Pinsir and Venonats have been safely captured, only to escape when the game crashes and players have to reset.

13 Better explain mechanics and improve overly-complicated ones

Pokemon Go start menu

Did you know that you can get more experience from catching a Pokémon by spinning the ball first? Or that the Pokémon tracker in the lower right hand corner actually orders nearby Pokémon by distance from left-to-right? Or what each footprint beneath a Pokémon means? If you didn’t, it’s because Pokémon GO’s tutorials basically explain nothing other than how to catch a Pokémon and that gyms exist.

This is a bizarre complaint for a Nintendo game, but with so many complicated and initially unintuitive systems at play, players definitely need more of a helping hand with more tutorials. Some systems just seem too complicated and byzantine even with tutorials -- the fact that tracking Pokémon doesn't give any directional indication, for example, seems like an unnecessary hurdle that does nothing but add additional frustration. It's one thing to be a kilometer away from a Pokémon and know you need to get closer, but the endless wandering searches can get frustrating.

12 Make getting candy easier

Pokemon Go Candy

Whenever you catch Pokémon of a species (or transfer it to the professor), you receive pokémon-specific candy, which you can then use to help power up your monsters or evolve them into a new form. Unfortunately, the game throttles how much candy you can get, with three candies given per Pokémon you catch, and only one candy for every Pokémon you transfer -- regardless of how evolved or high-level each Pokémon is. Additionally, the candies accrued only apply to that specific type, so leveling up your base Pokémon (and rare Pokémon in general) is overly difficult.

The fact that this system ignores how much more difficult it is to catch higher-level Pokémon (and the investment in time and candies it takes for players to evolve a Pokémon, especially through multiple evolutions) is annoying enough, but if the game incentivized players to buy candies, it would at least make some sense economically. But no such system is in place -- for most Pokémon, players will have to catch dozens of that type in order to level them up. If a poor soul wants to claim a Gyarados, their only recourse is to catch, at minimum, 100 Magikarps. Just one or two bonus candies for transferring high-level Pokémon would go a long, long way towards making evolution and leveling more fun.

11 Common-sense safety measures

Gyarados from Pokemon

This is another strange comment to make about a Nintendo game, but there’s a surprising lack of safety features and controls present in Pokémon GO. We might laugh at seemingly-unnecessary precautions like the Wii Remote Jacket, but such measures seem much more appropriate for Pokémon GO, which encourages kids to head out into the world and explore. From players wandering around and finding dead bodies to people using a lure device to attract victims for them to rob, there are real concerns for parents to have about their kids playing this game.

Something as simple as optional parental controls that limit when kids can play the game would provide a lot of peace of mind. Additionally, some awareness within the game of where people should or shouldn't be catching Pokémon would be nice, too -- emergency personnel have enough going on that they shouldn't have to worry about people looking for Fearows, and everyone can probably agree that a Holocaust museum isn't the best place for finding and catching Pokémon.

10 More trainer-to-trainer interaction

Pokemon Battle in Pokemon GO

This is another change that’s on the way, and thank goodness -- it just isn’t Pokémon without battling and trading! While battling already exists in some capacity thanks to the byzantine gym system, many players long for more traditional fights where they can just challenge their friends directly. Meanwhile, trading has never been more essential to collecting them all than in Pokémon GO, where literal miles and very real financial and time barriers could prevent people from getting to Pokémon that might be all too common for others.

It’s obviously more important to get the game up and running (and with crippling bugs like these fixed), but we certainly hope this change isn’t too far behind streamlined performance, especially if the systems for leveling and evolving Pokémon remain slow and cumbersome. Trading, on the other hand, could be a fast, easy way for players that want to complete their Pokédex to get a few hard-to-find Pokémon before trading them back, especially if the game implemented quality-of-life changes in trading as seen in Pokémon X and Y.

9 More defined/consistent Pokémon habitats

Pokemon world

This exists in the game to some degree, with wooded areas more likely to contain more grass type Pokémon, and water types more common around large bodies of water, but there still seems to be a lot of inconsistency in where specific Pokémon can most easily be found. For example, some people (certainly not ScreenRant writers) have found Magikarp randomly in their inland homes, while others report difficulty finding them at sea. Others (again, certainly not any ScreenRant writers) have more Pidgeys than they could ever possibly need, while looking on in impotent rage as other people seem to just stumble into Rhyhorn like they pave the streets!

The only consolation would be knowing that these Pokémon habitats are established, but the problem is that the Pokémon you can find in an area seem to change without rhyme or reason much of the time. Keeping locations for Pokémon catching just a little more consistent and structured would be a boon to those hoping to truly catch them all. Speaking of which…

8 Bring in Pokémon from other generations!

Pokemon Gold version

The last major change on this list that’s a true no-brainer, it still needs to be said: where are the other Pokémon? The first generation of monsters is among the most beloved (if not the most beloved), but there are plenty of great creatures in the later games that trainers are dying to catch -- especially younger trainers that may have never even played the early Pokémon games.

There are solid mechanical reasons for new Pokémon as well. The first generation precedes several design changes that better balanced the game, and with very few steel and fairy types (and no dark types), the dynamics in battling right now don’t feel as interesting as they should be. Fairy type moves, for example, don't get a lot of utility in a game with only three dragon-type Pokémon and no dark types, while players hoping to completely protect themselves from poison types have only Magnemite and Magneton to rely upon.

That said, there's likely a decent contingency of older gamers that aren't too keen on being forced to use the newer Pokémon, as their use of the app is largely nostalgia-driven, and many will have no emotional ties to the newer Pokés. But the geezers will likely just have to roll with the punches, as it's hard to imagine that Pokémon beyond the orginal 150 (151 if you count Mew, or even 152 if you count Ho-Oh) will be excluded from future app updates.

8. Spread new Pokémon around far apart, but change locations

Bike Riding in Pokemon GO Trailer

An interesting wrinkle to Pokémon GO would be to take advantage of both the incredibly large number of Pokémon and the fact that the game is global (well, soon to be global), to give every region of the world something unique and exciting. Niantic could give every region well over a hundred Pokémon that could only be found there, rewarding travelers that play Pokémon GO while they vacation, but also schedule “migrations” every few weeks or months that move the Pokémon around and give everyone a chance to catch what they’re looking for without leaving home.

The previous Pokémon games have already done some of the groundwork for this idea, with the fifth, sixth, and seventh generations introducing Pokémon native to the game's equivalents of New York State, France, and the Hawaiian islands, respectively, while the other four generations have plenty of Pokémon to go around. This idea might be technically difficult to execute (and if so, should be ignored -- the game needs stability right now) but imagine the chaos in airports as players desperately search for a Sentret before they have to board the plane!

7 Introduce TMs or other ways to change your Pokémon's moves

Pokemon moves and abilities

A big part of Pokémon’s appeal is traveling and growing alongside your partners, and Pokémon GO has this covered, to some extent. Trainers can nickname their Pokémon (though other players can't see the Pokémon's names -- understandable for family-friendly reasons, but still disappointing), battle them, and make them stronger until they eventually evolve. But except through evolution, there’s no way to change each Pokémon’s moves, and after evolution, those moves are set in stone.

With so many other items in the game, adding in something as simple as TMs, or even just an item that randomly gives your Pokémon a new move, would be a great gesture to trainers that want their Pokémon to be the best version of themselves, especially considering that the overall movepool in Pokémon GO is much smaller than in standard Pokémon games due to status-inflicting, stat-boosting, entry hazards, and double-battling moves being completely irrelevant.

6 More details about the Teams

Recent Pokémon games have perhaps indulged too much in giving their teams back stories, context, and information, with Pokémon Black and White perhaps being the most guilty offenders. That being said, Pokémon GO has gone too far in the other direction, giving players nothing about the three main factions other than a color, symbol, and vague description of their general philosophies.

Trainers don’t need much to enjoy a greater degree of investment; some context as to why the teams need gyms, where the professor stands on his assistants splintering into factions, or even just knowing what the leaders of each team actually look like would be great additions to the game. Even better would be timing these reveals with inevitable events surrounding newly-found legendary Pokémon -- what will happen when each team's legendary bird is able to be captured? Will the teams have some reason for encouraging their trainers to catch their own team's Pokémon beyond just completing the Pokédex? Will the other teams encourage poaching these legendary birds?

5 Photo mode for already captured Pokémon

Pokemon GO Gameplay

Finding and photographing wild Pokémon is one of the coolest things in Pokémon GO, but right now, that’s all that it’s limited to -- wild Pokémon. Monsters you find in the wild can appear alongside objects in the real world until they’re caught or they flee, but once you’ve caught a Pokémon, you can’t use the AR capabilities of the game to engage or interact with it anymore, which has forced users to use screenshots to show off their creatures.

Given how much of internet culture revolves around the simplicity of sharing and customizing images, this is a huge missed opportunity on the part of Niantic and Nintendo, one that could easily have made the game even more memetic and popular than it already is. How much cooler would it be to show off your Pokémon with a selfie, rather than a static screenshot of them alongside your in-game avatar? 

4 Badges from captured gyms

Pokemon - Ash's gym badges

This is a minor gripe, but it remains one of the most disappointing absences from Pokémon GO, especially given the prevalence of gyms. In both the games and TV show, it was incredibly satisfying to slowly build up a collection of badges from gyms you’ve conquered, so much so that the games even give you a badge case for the sole purpose of admiring your hard-won trophies.

While a simple version of this concept (say, a “number of badges” stat that tracks how many gyms you’ve beaten) would be great, imagine Niantic reaching out to the real-world sites of gyms and letting them submit their own unique designs for badges! Local restaurants are already invested enough in the game to start offering various promotions and discounts, while plenty of bigger locations could provide badges for gyms located near chain locations, government buildings, and famous monuments easily enough.

3 Bring in more features from the Pokémon games

Mew in Pokemon Amie

When trading and one-on-one battles are implemented, Pokémon GO will have all the basics of a Pokémon game in place. But as the years have gone on, more and more tweaks and updates have changed expectations about what a Pokémon game is, and there are plenty of these features Niantic could add that would go well with their mobile app.

Adding real-life game corners that reward players with items or Pokémon if they play a minigame on their phone would be a fun addition, and help break up the monotony of identical Pokéstop after identical Pokéstop. Shiny Pokémon seem like another addition this game could really sink its teeth into, making the gratification of finding a new Pokémon even more satisfying to experience and share. Taking a page out of Pokémon X and Y’s book, Niantic could put in a varient of Pokémon-Amie, and let players show their Pokémon some love. There are literally dozens of features and side-activities that would be great in Pokémon GO, and plenty of games that show amazing ways to implement them.

2 More places to drop off Pokémon

Pokemon contest

In most Pokémon games, the vast majority of a player’s Pokémon remain in a PC box, while trainers carry the six Pokémon they deem most useful with them on an adventure. Pokémon GO is interesting because it’s so different in this regard; players can have all of their Pokémon with them at once, with the only ones leaving the party being those Pokémon they entrust with the important work of guarding captured gyms.

The idea that dropping off a Pokémon in a specific location would be a cool addition to Pokémon GO, and the handheld games have plenty of features that could be brought over to the mobile app that could take advantage of this.

Day cares, Pokémon training centers, contest halls and more could be scattered around the world for players to leave their Pokémon, returning to find stronger creatures, items, and plenty of other rewards. This could even work well with the fitness angle: while gyms send defeated Pokémon back automatically, new additions like day cares could tie leveling up and candy gain to the player's steps like in the old games, incentivizing them to spend as much time being up and active as possible.

1 Take better advantage of the photo feature!

Pokemon Snap

Pokémon GO may have positioned itself as a mobile-version of the battling, trading, and exploring games so popular on Nintendo’s systems, with its robust AR technology it could very easily have been a new Pokémon Snap game, and likely blown the beloved classic N64 title out of the water. Regardless, the ability to photograph wild Pokémon (and hopefully captured {okémon at some point) is one of the most beloved features of the game that isn’t really rewarded or acknowledged by any of the game’s mechanics. Something as simple as an Instagram plugin to easily upload photos would be a godsend to trainers that want to show everyone their new friends, and if the game could somehow tie likes and upvotes on social media to in-game rewards, we could see a plethora of amazing Pokémon-photos flood the internet.

And that's without making any underlying changes to the game itself; with a few more animations for the Pokémon and a couple additional items, the game could make the photo mode a game in and of itself as well as a great way for the public to continue spreading the Pokélove.


What features do you want to see added to Pokémon Go? Is this game built to last, or will the nostalgia train derail before Niantic can take this thing to the next level? Sound off in the comments section.

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