COVID Revived Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go is getting popular all over again.

By Andy Yang

In the atrium of Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), you can find groups of students sitting in packs helping one another raid local “gyms,” taking turns placing magnets by the local Pokéstop at the nearby Kaufman Theater, and showing off their latest catches on the mobile app Pokémon Go

Presumably dead, Pokémon Go is a mobile app that was designed back in 2016 by Niantic where players hunt monsters known as Pokémons from real-life locations. During its initial release, it surged to popularity. Around 500 million people were going around their neighborhood swiping aggressively on their phones making loops with their fingers. Often optimistic to see what Pokémon they can catch, hits of adrenaline seem to get to players whenever they encounter a fictional creature from their favorite childhood game.

Unfortunately, the game faded away like all games considered “hyped-up.” Zachary Lubin, a former player of the game and FSSA senior film student, who currently resides on Roosevelt Island said there were many reasons that caused the game’s death back in the day.

“I think the primary reason why Pokémon Go got so popular back in 2016 is that, well, it’s quite nostalgic,” he said. Quite nostalgic indeed for some, but not all. Those who followed players for nostalgia with no knowledge of Pokémon immediately stopped playing after their friends quit and we saw a rapid decline.

“For me though,  I guess it just got repetitive. It’s the same thing you do over and over again with that finger thing,” Zach said.

Because of Covid-19 and the need to quarantine, people were outside less, which should’ve been quite disadvantageous for immersive mobile games such as Pokémon Go. In spite of this, it did not lead to the game’s end. Surprisingly, the outcome was the complete opposite.

Niantic states that the mobile app has gotten more than one billion downloads since the pandemic. New updates and tweaks such as picking up items for a greater distance than before as well as newer Pokémon’s also encourage the revival of the game. 

“There’s definitely more to the game now than before, like the new legendary Pokémon for raids and stuff,” said fellow player Andreas Ho who lives in Bayside, Queens. It also seems that Pokémon Go’s downfall was also the leading factor to its revival.

“I saw my friends playing it, and I was like ‘yo I haven’t played that in a long time so mine as well gives it a try, so now I’m kinda addicted again,” Andreas added.

Of course, there are other players who never stopped playing the game: “Dude, wanna see my Pokedex? I never stopped playing even when it died back then. Being on the grind every summer. But yeah, I also got some of my friends playing when they saw me on it,” said fellow player Ethan Chan, a teen from Bayside.

So, what does the future hold for Pokémon Go? Will its revival be one that lasts or will it merely fade away to never return again? So far, it seems the future is bright for this mobile app. The developers at Niantic have just announced that new updates to be included in order to make the game even more interactive. Furthermore, according to a variety of new events are also expected for the game’s future.