Everybody loves a good routine. We all have one when we wake up in the morning, a time and order that we shower, brush our teeth, get dressed, have breakfast, drink our coffee – you know the drill. You’ve all woken up before. This holds true for games, too. In live-service titles, there’s usually a little bit of spring cleaning we do each time we log on, whether it’s busywork, simple tasks, or some daily rituals. Pokemon Go is perfect for that sort of thing, but unfortunately, it seems to be lacking.
I hadn’t noticed this until recently. I’m still playing Pokemon Go almost six years later, and it has slipped from being a compelling, must-play experience into something of a routine, but very little of the game supports this regular, recurring playstyle.
At the moment, there’s a Special Research task that asks you to get a Heart with your buddy each day. Just one Heart. This is an extremely easy task. Taking a picture of your buddy, feeding it three Berries, or twitching your finger over it a couple of times to tickle it all count as earning a Heart. That’s just one of those three tasks you need to do. One of them, daily, for 30 days. Today is my 29th day.
I realised that I have been logging on to Pokemon Go each day solely to get this Heart. Once that’s happened, I have often stuck around and caught Pokemon, battled Team Rocket, worked on some other tasks, or done any manner of other things. I can still do all those things, but will I still bother after this task is over?
I’ll keep playing Pokemon Go, of course, but I’m not sure it will become a thing I reach for first thing in the morning before my real routine begins. I’ll play it idly, three or four times a week whenever enough boredom strikes me, but I wish there was more of a daily push to get me to pick my phone up.
Most of the tasks take a long time to complete, like catching 40 Ghost types after the Ghost event is over, or else they ask you to feed three Berries to a Pokemon and can be done in 15 minutes. There is no ‘little and often’ option, or at least there won’t be once tomorrow rolls around and I get to finally clear this task.
I’m half-tempted to ignore tomorrow and let the clock reset, but that defeats the point. It’s only worth doing this every day if it’s working towards completing a goal. If it’s all for nothing, I’m not sure I’ll be able to bring myself to keep it up. The game needs to offer something like this for us, not force us to make our own version of it.
The game does have an attempt at this, but it stopped trying a long time ago with it. We do have daily research tasks, with seven complete tasks – not even seven days in a row, but seven total – resulting in a special Pokemon for us to catch. It’s like a Subway gift card: you do seven things and you get a free sandwich. It used to be Legendary Pokemon like Zapdos, Ho-Oh, or Regirock in these boxes, and even if we had those Pokemon, it was still worth it because Legendaries are special enough to warrant five minutes of effort each day. The current reward is Alolan Grimer, of which I have about 50. I actively resent winning it. It’s less a free sandwich than it is a free paper straw for your glass of Sprite.
Pokemon Go feels tailor made for this sort of daily play, but the game just doesn’t do enough for us to keep up with it. You’d think six years in, it would have figured this out, but perhaps it’s too focused on the whales who keep the lights on than the casual trainers who make up the bulk of the playerbase. In truth, I hadn’t really noticed that the game lacked a daily reason to play until it provided such an obvious one. Now that it’s going away, I’m going to miss it.
I’ll still play Pokemon Go three or four days a week, maybe even every day of the week sometimes. It’s still a game I’ll always pick up. But now I’ll have no set routine, nothing to do, and soon I might be opening the game, finding nothing immediately important, and then closing it again. After keeping me busy for a month, Pokemon Go needs to make a habit of it.
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