Update: Niantic announces that we’re just over 2.8 billion.
It’s a lot of Pokémon, 3 Billion Pokémon. At the start of Pokémon GO’s Global Catch Challenge it seemed like a staggering number projected with just a bit of optimism, but the community appears to be rising to the challenge, even if things are coming down to wire somewhat. Niantic recently announced that players had caught 2.5 billion creatures already, putting us in striking distance of the top-tier goal, and I’d expect people to put things over the top sometime in the next 12 hours or so. So barring any significant slowdown in catch rate — and this chart indicates that progress has been fairly linear — we should be able to reach the goal and unlock East Asian regional exclusive Farfetch’d for players all over the world. We’ll update if and when players hit that magic number.
The other day, I wrote about how it’s easy to get lost in an event like this without some sort of personal goal system to allow players to both track their own accomplishments along with the global ones and to motivate them to get out catching on a smaller scale. That’s an implementation question and an area where Niantic could stand to look at how other developers have rolled out similar events in the past. But overall, the Global Catch Challenge has been a big success, offering a new take on how the company can approach limited time events in a way that engages the community.
The most important thing about the Global Catch Challenge is that it at least approaches something that players have been asking for essentially since the game launched: a quest. Quests don’t have to be complicated — they’re essentially just small and large goals with commensurate rewards that players can use to organize their gameplay on a day-to-day basis. In Pokémon GO the only real goals are leveling up, training Pokémon and completing the Pokédex, and all of these are sort of sprawling, amorphous tasks without clearly defined endpoints, leaving players to stick their own goalposts in the ground as they see fit. It’s easy to get lost, and a lack of direction is a major reason why we saw such massive more paly attrition in the early days. If attrition has slowed down, it’s because all the players that are left are the ones who are better-suited to this style of gameplay.
But the Global Catch Challenge is at least a short-term goal that people can work to and then accomplish in a concrete way, even if they’re doing so on such a large scale that personal contributions can feel a bit muddy. And the difference is striking: it’s hard to measure without a window into Niantic’s metrics, but being out playing and monitoring communities gives you the sense that the game has been able to maintain excitement over the course of the event in a way that just isn’t possible with something like the Halloween event, where people were able to grab what they wanted in just a few minutes of play.
It bodes well not just for the future of this game but also for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which can hopefully learn from some of Pokémon GO’s mistakes when it launches next year.
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