How we can elevate Pokémon GO esports to the next level
Pokémon GO debuted in 2016 and took the world by storm. During the summer of its debut year, everyone had their heads down looking at their phones in any populated area, hoping to find the next Snorlax, Charmander or Pikachu to pop up on their screen.
Since then, the game has not necessarily reached the popularity it was at six years ago. Still, the game has plenty of players. In the last 30 days, Niantic’s smash hit has had over eight million daily players, according to activeplayer.io. Not everyone who’s walking around looking at their phones is checking for shiny Pokémon, but some of them certainly are.
One thing the game might be lacking is a competitive presence. One way many games retain their audience and build upon it is with competitive modes. Pokémon GO does have competitive PvP, but not many players partake in that or even know about it. Here are a few tips for Niantic to take Pokémon GO’s esports to the next level.
Niantic needs to improve Pokémon GO’s esports presence
We know there is some traction with Pokémon GO esports, but events and competitions are too far apart and hardly publicized much.
First up, there should be easily accessible competitive playlists for the battle mode. While there is currently a “premium” track in the PvP section, it hardly qualifies as competitive. Anyone who gets a premium pass can partake. To fix this, Niantic can introduce a competitive playlist in which top placement can earn them elite rewards or even money. Pokémon trainers who play would have their statistics tracked and would earn points based on performance. The better the performance (more wins), the better the level they’ll get to. If they lose, they can be dropped down to lower levels and risk losing money or rewards.
Another way that Niantic can improve Pokémon GO’s esports presence is to host live events. There are GO Battle days, like the recently held GO Battle Day: Mankey, but that was minor and didn’t get a ton of exposure. Pokémon GO can mirror these events like they do with their worldwide tours. Just recently, Niantic hosted GO Fest 2022 and a few months ago the Pokémon Go Tour: Johto. Almost every single active player participated during those events.
For the competitive events, Niantic can sell tickets that allow players to compete in exclusive battles with other players and other NPC trainers. Fighting Giovani is an uncommon experience, but these events could allow players to test their mettle against him or anyone Niantic introduces above him.
Additionally, what Niantic needs to do to improve the esports presence of Pokémon GO is simply increase exposure. Pokémon GO has been one of the most prominent games in the last five years and yet, it’s hardly considered a video game at all. To do this, they’ll need to increase advertisement and perhaps collaborate with other games. Pokémon: Scarlet and Violet are coming out soon and will be played by a lot of gamers. Connecting the games would go a long way to improving Pokémon GO’s status and presence in the esports world.
Finally, it’s down to the players to serve as ambassadors for this title and push for more events. There is plenty of interest for this title to become a full fledged esports if everyone comes together.