2018 has proven to be a successful year for Pokemon Go. How can Niantic up the ante for Pokemon Go in 2019?
There were concerns that with Pokemon Go being in its second year, that it might stagnate. The game at its core is somewhat repetitive. It is because of this that many critics speculated the game would struggle.
This has been proven false, primarily due to the incredible sums of money Niantic are still making and secondly due to the high numbers that continue to play the game.
Pokemon Go raid battles were introduced in mid-2017. However, it wasn't until 2018 were they became a regular occurrence. This was one of the features that contributed to user engagement in 2018.
Elsewhere, there was also the addition of field research. This is an in-game task, that when completed, generates rewards. Field research was first introduced in March 2018 and has been a popular feature in the Pokemon Go Community.
Pokemon Go Community Days were relatively consistent throughout 2018 in terms of magnitude. From January to November, a single Pokemon was the focal point of the day. December proved to be different, however. All 11 previous Community Day Pokemon from that year were available. Whether this was just a special Christmas bonus or a sign of things to come in 2019 remains to be seen.
The January Community Day has reverted to type whereby the day is centred around one Pokemon. Unsurprisingly, the only generation 2 Pokemon which has yet to feature, headlines the event. Totodile the gen 2 water-type starter Pokemon follows on from Chikorita and Cyndaquil headlining September and November 2018 respectively.
Finally, 2018 saw the introduction of the much demanded PvP mode. Pokemon Go forums had been littered with requests for an actual trainer battle mode within Pokemon Go. December 2018 was the month it was finally introduced.
It will be interesting as well as exciting to see what ideas Niantic have for Pokemon Go in 2019.
Raid battles and field research are proving popular features. As a result, expect these to continue to feature throughout 2019, perhaps with greater frequency. Furthermore, there will also likely be further modes added to engage Pokemon Go players.
The recent Hatchathon event is an example of a random, new event coming out of the blue. Clearly the event is designed to increase engagement and to keep trainers catching (or hatching) those Pokemon!
The focal point of Pokemon Go in 2019 could be trainer battles. The introduction of PvP within Pokemon Go went relatively smoothly. Whilst the mode does give Pokemon Go players the functionality to battle it does so in a rather limited, basic format.
Therefore, we can expect this mode to be improved upon which may result in a more skill-based experience. Of course a large part of the Pokemon community would like to see a turn based system implemented, a la the main Pokemon games.
A complete overhaul to make it a turn-based system may be a little far fetched. There have been discussions about including battle elements from the mainline Pokemon games. These include status effects, such as sleeping and confusion, and mega-evolution.
It's no secret that gen 4 in Pokemon Go is an eventuality rather than a possibility. An array of gen 4 Pokemon have already been released into the Pokemon Go wild. Consequently, generation 4 could be the next big feature we see in Pokemon Go.
Read More: Pokemon Go Generation 4
A more left-field theory as to what could be introduced in 2019 is your Pokemon Center of sorts. This would be a location where you can automatically fully heal your Pokemon and have access to larger storage. In essence what a Pokemon Center is!
Another feature that has the potential to be added is breeding. Whilst not discussed among official Pokemon channels, it is a request that frequently appears in the Pokemon forums.
Finally, it is also worth noting that the introduction of 5G is just around the corner. This could open Pokemon Go up to new possibilities and at the very least improve the stability of the game.