Updated visuals are the last thing Pokemon Go needs right now

Scott Baird
Updated visuals are the last thing Pokemon Go needs right now

Niantic is hyping up the new visual overhaul of the “Rediscover Pokemon Go” campaign, but is it enough to win back the lapsed fans?

Pokemon Go fans are often vocal about their issues with the game, be it the monetization practices, lackluster rewards for events, or the additional trials that rural players face.

It’s far less common for players to complain about the visuals in Pokemon Go. Yet, Niantic has chosen graphics as the cornerstone of the Rediscover Pokemon Go campaign, hyping up the improved visuals as a reason to return to the game.

Pokemon Go has never been a graphical powerhouse, but that hasn’t stopped engagement before. Niantic shouldn’t be concerned with the game’s aesthetics, as fans stopped playing for other reasons.

lucky pokemon pokemon go

Rediscover Pokemon Go is more about graphics and gameplay

Following a cryptic tweet that promised a big reveal, Niantic announced Rediscover Pokemon Go, consisting of several updates, some of which are already available in certain regions.

These updates include more detailed backgrounds and biomes, enhanced avatar creator, and revamped Snapshot features.

The problem is that these changes have already received a negative response from fans. The new backgrounds are certainly nice, but they slow the game down on older hardware and cause the battery to drain quickly.

More importantly, fans loathe the changes to the Avatar system, complaining that character models have become creepy and childlike. This update isn’t even available worldwide yet, and fans are already asking for it to be recalled.

These polarizing features aren’t enough to make people care about returning to Pokemon Go, as it’s still the same game beneath the polish.

Pokemon fans don’t care about visuals

Fans and critics absolutely eviscerated Pokemon Scarlet & Violet for their terrible performance and visual quality. According to many fans, it is shocking that The Pokemon Company allowed a mainline game to ship in that condition.

But do you know what wasn’t shocking? The fact that the Gen 9 games sold millions of copies. They’re the #4 best-selling duo in the series, behind Gen 8, Gen 2, and Gen 1, with over 23 million sold to date.

Pokemon Scarlet & Violet sold so well because people don’t buy Pokemon games for the visuals—they buy them for the gameplay. Gen 9 still had the classic Pokemon gameplay loop with a few extra bells and whistles, so fans snatched up copies in droves.

A visual update for Pokemon Go doesn’t appeal much because fans have been playing for nearly a decade now without concern for the game’s appearance. People show up for Pokemon, not for 60fps or Ray-tracing.

How to make lapsed fans actually “Rediscover” Pokemon Go

Pushing Rediscover Pokemon on visuals is a misstep because there are better ways to win back the crowd than with some extra trees and bushes, namely:

  • Pull back on the monetization – Pokemon Go fans can’t always afford to pay for every new event or Pass that comes out, leading to the opposite of FOMO, as people get fatigued when they keep missing stuff. So, make the game cheaper to play. Throw in some free Remote Raid Passes, and fans will return in droves. Cheaper tickets & passes will be more enticing and earn more engagement than the current pricing model.
  • Boost the Level Cap – People who have been playing since day one have likely run out of stuff to do. Taking the game to 60, 75, or even 100 would be an incentive for players to return, especially if it was alongside other new content.
  • Introduce a new combat mechanic – Pokemon Go has Mega Evolutions, but it’s lacking Z-Moves, Dynamaxing, Gigantamaxing, and Terastalization. Bringing in one of these mechanics, or even something entirely new, would have people curious about how they change the game.
  • Expand the Battle mode – Pokemon Go’s battle systems are far less complicated than the ones in the mainline games. The time has come to beef it up and make it more strategic, possibly by increasing the number of moves a Pokemon can learn or introducing the Ability mechanic from the mainline games, adding a level of depth to your team selection.

These are just a few ideas that don’t include the obvious, like adding more Pokemon who aren’t in Pokemon Go yet.

A new coat of paint in Pokemon Go is nice, but it’s the last thing the game needs right now. Fans have been satisfied with basic graphics for years, but the gameplay and the cost of Pokemon Go are turning people away. If Niantic wants fans to “Rediscover” Pokemon Go, then it’s time to look at the actual reasons people left in the first place.

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About The Author

Scott has been writing for Dexerto since 2023, having been a former contributor to websites like Cracked, Dorkly, Topless Robot, Screen Rant, The Gamer, and TopTenz. A graduate of Edge Hill University in the UK, Scott started as a film student before moving into journalism. Scott specializes in Pokemon, Nintendo, DnD, Final Fantasy, and MTG. He can be contacted on LinkedIn.