Android/Google Store review
Pokemon GO is a free to play game designed for Android & iPhone devices, however saying it is an F2P game is really hiding the truth & it's pay to win on so many levels that it isn't even funny...
I'm going to first start off by saying this game is a HUGE energy drain. Not only does it drain your battery from the game & screen (and audio & vibration, if you haven turned it off), but I've noticed it even impairs charging. Trying to fast charge my Android S6, I would have taken upwards of 48 hours to fully charge with the game running, even in sleep mode.
Can not restart progress
Like most Facebook games, Pokemon GO does not allow you to reset your progress & start fresh. This one reason alone is why I don't play most Facebook games (or stop playing them when I want to reset my progress & am unable to) & have debated a number of times whether I really want to continue even attempting to play Pokemon GO.
Targets a specific type of gamers
The game is also not friendly towards those without service on your phone or a wifi hotspot. While the game does have an ingame store (where you can purchase pokeballs & other items), it does not allow you to gain the travel distance to hatch eggs simply walking around your own home. I mainly only have a phone for the purpose of running security apps (and a few games) over the wifi & can't afford service on the phone, so attempting to play this game has become a HUGE hassle; while I understand the game was designed to break the couch potato gamer stereotype, a number of factors was not taking into account for those who can't afford service on their phones. I do have a friend that will allow me to access his wifi hotspot on his phone, but most of the time I have to rely on the buggy GPS to run me around to get the travel distance.
False banning (softbans)
The buggy GPS however can work against you also, causing you to get softbanned. A softban basically keeps you from being able to capture pokemon, freezes your walking distance gain & won't allow you to get items from pokestops. Regardless of whether you're hacking the game or not, you're going to find yourself softbanned in the game simply because the GPS is too buggy (especially when indoors). I tend to leave the game on, in sleep mode while trying to gain walking distance to hatch eggs, which I believe is where the problem is happening. To date, then times I have noticed when I was soft banned:
The first time I spotted a Pikachu, shortly after I stared playing the game. Wasted probably around pokeballs to try & capture it only to have it run off.
When I tried to get items from the pokestop located at the Leprechaun Inn in Salt Lake City, Utah.
On 3/12/2016, I wasted 2 razz berries & 15 pokeballs trying to capture a Kakuna on my primary account.
On 3/13/2016, I wasted 3 razz berries & 11 pokeballs trying to capture a Ariados on my primary account.
On 3/22/2016, got nothing from pokestop located at Leprechaun Inn on my primary account, however did get credit towards 7-day streak.
More to be added later, if I decide to continue playing the game...
So how to you tell when you're softbanned? Honestly, there's not actual notification when it happens, you just find out when you can capture anything or can't get anything from pokestops... About the only thing you can do when you've determined you've been softbanned is shut of the game for 24 to 48 hours. These types of restrictions/penalties only lower the interest I may still have in the game, sooner or later I may decide to stop playing it entirely...
Pay to win
The developers chose not to give the phone itself proper sleep mode notifications, favoring purchase of a Bluetooth device called Pokemon GO Plus. This device kind of defeats the purpose of the game (loosely referred to as) F2P. Also remember the energy drain I was talking about before, considering the additional power used while Bluetooth is enabled. While some might say that "at least it's not microtransactions", that's not entirely correct. The Pokemon GO Plus uses pokeballs as a form of upkeep for notification pushes to the device, so you're still paying microtransactions regardless. The microtransactions may just be ones you've gained from leveling or from pokestops or you could consider it real money microtransactions if you actually purchase pokeballs from the store. Be EXTREMELY careful not to enable Pokemon GO Plus features if you don't own the device; I made this mistake when I started playing the game, not knowing you needed an additional device to use it & that it drained pokeballs, literally draining my pokeballs to 0 (originally thinking they just expired over time), keeping me from doing anything in the game for about 3 months until I figured out there was an Xfinity wifi hotspot next to the Leprechaun Inn that gave me the ability to at least use that pokestop (whether others are going to be available in my area without a mobile hotspot, that's still to be determined).
The other P2W aspect in the game is as I already stated, the items from the stores. However consider you could be using these items while you've been penalized by a softban you're not even aware you've been hit with, the company running this game is practically stealing from you.
The locations in this game has caused a lot of controversy & hazards cause by the game itself. I have heard of stories where pokemon show up in lakes, in the middle of busy streets, people's backyards or private property. While the game does give warnings not to drive or trespass while playing the game, I think most of are already aware that young children are not going to pay attention to those warnings. I have heard stories of people nearly getting hit, getting the sprinklers turned on them, getting shot at by irate home owners, causing excessive traffic to locations of importance (such as police stations) & breaking into private property to capture pokemon or use pokestops; this has lead to arrests of those individuals, near deaths & I expect sooner or later, will result in somebody getting killed out of it. This game is a hazard & people need to be keeping aware of their surroundings rather than focusing on their phone; the commercials about texting & driving often refer to people texting & walking, playing Pokemon GO & driving/walking is no different.
Hackers are going to kill your fun in this game by destroying you in pokemon gym battles. While the company is trying to fight the problem, they either are not doing enough to stop them or are getting others caught in the crossfire that are getting penalized simply due to faulty GPS reporting. If you despise hackers (as I do), this game may not be for you & should be avoided like the plague; you won't enjoy getting grouped with the hackers when you get banned for being a good player or simply because your GPS is acting funny anyways, meaning all the time & money you spent on it is going to be wasted.
Caught pokemon limitations
One other thing I've noticed is there's a limit on how many pokemon you can capture on a single account. I don't know how many pokemon are in the game, but there's a currently limitation of 250 if you don't pay for an upgrade. The question is whether the amount of pokemon in the game exceeds the amount of pokemon you can get without buying an upgrade? If this is the case, that means there needs to be some offset where the limit of pokemon you can catch can be increased through other means rather than purchasing the upgrade in carrying capacity, because if there isn't, the game is not only P2W, it's something I refer to as "pay to proceed", which really is just a fancy way of calling a game a trial for non-paying players. The developers appear to be adding new pokemon every so often & I've already unlocked the pokedex into the 330 range (not exactly captured, but you can see that many slots in the pokedex, a number of them with just a number for pokemon you haven't run across yet or a silhouette for those you've seen, but haven't captured), so it if gets much higher (provided the pokemon in the game hasn't gotten over 250 already), they're going to need to raise that limit to exceed the amount of pokemon you can capture without having to purchase an upgrade. The slogan of the original game was "gotta catch 'em all", which won't be possible if the developers are limiting slots lower than the amount of pokemon in the game, therefore classifying the game as a trial for non-paying customers unless the limitation is raised to exceed the amount of pokemon in the game.
NOTE: Currently this portion of this review is just speculation as I have no solid proof of how many pokemon are in the game & haven't been able to find any other methods for raising the limit online when I attempted to research it, but I'm leaving this here for now until I find out otherwise.
Apparently they will also hit you with penalties whenever they feel like it, something I noticed on 4/4/2017, when it became obvious walking distance had been removed/decreased after logging in (something I probably wouldn't have noticed if not for looking at my buddy distance meter when it happened). I also noticed this on 4/14/2017, where my bike ride down to the pokestop at Leprechaun Inn & back home had been negated; likely due to not having service on the phone & I'm guessing what looked like warping (GPS spoofing) to the company either by jumping from Xfinity hotspot to hotspot during the ride (an obvious penalty for not having service on your phone & having to rely on wifi hotspots) or having the phone locked on the bike ride down & back (only unlocking it to hit the pokestop, then again when I got back home), which would also look like warping. Normally I wouldn't care about this, but it is an issue when you are attempting to hatch eggs, so I decided to get that information public so people would be aware of it... It makes sense to have screenshots of your walking distance (something I did this time around), so you can compare & determine whether you are being penalized on false assumptions that you're hacking, something; I intend on providing screenshots of the differences (as proof) from this point on whenever possible.
Element determined pokemon appearance
Aside for all the negatives, the mechanics of the game are really quite ingenious. I noticed on 3/22/2017, while there was a storm going through Utah, an excess of water-type pokemon were showing up. When it was fairly hot, I would see a number of fire-type pokemon It's not determined whether this is decided by local weather stations or by thermo-imaging from satellite using heat signatures, but a pretty fair assumption that not only holidays or special events can determine what pokemon you will see at any given time, but also whether. In one case I read about somebody going into somebody's back yard & catching a squirtle while the sprinklers are going, so thermal-imaging of temperatures via satelite is a very real possibility, however that theory is still unconfirmed.
Breaking the couch-potato gaming trend
The game also gives kids & adults alike a reason to go out & exercise. However you still need to keep in mind of the dangers out there & be wary of your surroundings, so with the addition of a plus to break the lazy gamer stereotype, there's an added negative of people (mostly children) wandering the streets, parks & whatnot searching for pokemon & pokestops, not paying attention to what else is out there with them, which could lead to kidnappings, getting hit by cars or who knows what else...
Last updated 4/14/2017