Our Japanese-language reporter thinks the worldwide phenomenon could rise to popularity again soon.

Pokémon GO might have been the biggest mobile game of 2016. More people downloaded the game from the Apple Store in the first week of its release than any other mobile game in history. It was so popular in Japan that it even helped disaster-stricken areas recover thanks to a surge in tourism by players, although some places banned it completely because it brought too many inconsiderate gamers to the area.

Sadly, the hype didn’t last long, and for one reason or another many players seemed to lose interest in the game. Niantic, the creator of the game, has made multiple efforts to bring back players, or at least to maintain their current players, by updating the game and adding new features regularly, and our Japanese language correspondent P.K. Sanjun thinks their efforts are going to pay off.

P.K. was one of those whose enthusiasm for the game reached a peak shortly after its release; he even created a hands-free playing device along with some of the other members of SoraNews24’s Japanese team. But when his Pokédex started getting pretty full after about six months of dutiful play, his excitement started to wane, and even though new Pokémon were added, he didn’t open the app again for about a year.

When he kept hearing,Pokémon GO is even better now!” from his friends and colleagues, this past March he decided to pick it up again. To his surprise, the game was actually really fun! He’s convinced that it’s going to become popular again, and here are six reasons why:

1. There are way more Pokémon

There were probably a lot of players like P.K. who filled up their Pokédex quickly after the game was released and then ran out of things to do. If you were one of those people, there is a lot for you to do now! There used to be only 150 Pokémon available in the game, but now it’s been extended to three generations and 380 Pokémon. You probably won’t have to worry about running out of Pokémon to catch for a long time.

2. It’s not just about the Pokédex anymore

Even if you manage to fill up your Pokédex, you won’t get tired of catching Pokémon because now there are Shinies in the game. P.K. used to be someone who didn’t care much about Shiny Pokémon, but Shinies are super rare and finding them is based wholly on chance, so there’s something really thrilling about catching one. They’re worth it for the major bragging rights, and that’s why P.K. thinks they’re a great new feature.

3. Raid Battles are actually pretty fun

If you’re unfamiliar with this newer feature, Raid Battles are when a super strong Pokémon randomly appears in a Gym, and up to 20 people at once have to work together to take it down. In Tokyo, Raid Battles with rare Pokémon attract crowds of people who have come for the chance at taking it on. It’s a challenging collaborative effort that, if successful, rewards players with items and a chance to catch the rare Pokémon.

P.K. firmly believes that the Raid Battles, which were introduced in July 2017, revolutionized the game. He says that after the Raid Battles came into play, Pokémon GO became a totally different game; it’s now not only a collecting game but also a battle game.

4. There are tons of events

Nowadays Pokémon GO holds special events all the time, and thanks to those events, it’s a lot easier to find rare Pokémon. Interestingly, there are a lot more events now than there used to be, and it’s not unusual to find lots of people gathered in areas where events are taking place.

“Community Day” is one really great example. On Community Day, rare Pokémon appear for three hours, and in Tokyo you wouldn’t believe how many trainers suddenly appear to catch them! Local regions often hold events like Pokémon Safaris, like the one in Tottori a few months ago which drew tons of trainers who were able to catch lots of rare Pokémon. Thanks to events, you probably won’t ever get bored with Pokémon GO again!

5. The game is genuinely evolving

The current version of Pokémon GO has put a lot of attention into the small details. For example, when trying to catch Pokémon, players have always been able to throw berries at them to make them easier to catch, but now there are many more varieties of berries with different effects.

Plus, there’s now a “Field Research” function, where players help a Pokémon Professor learn more about Pokémon and the area by completing missions. It’s easy to use and gives the game an additional sense of purpose, so it’s a nice new feature.

6. A lot of people have already played it

While P.K.’s reasons are related to why he thinks people should go back and play Pokémon GO, perhaps this is the most convincing reason as to why it might make a comeback. The reality is that millions of people have already played the game, and those people already know how it works. Since they experienced the Pokémon GO fever of 2016, their passion is probably lying dormant somewhere, where it could be reignited by even the smallest spark.

In other words, it’s possible that many of those former players could be inspired to come back to the game for the simplest reason, like someone talked about it, or they read about it in an article, or they saw a friend playing it. And if those players play even once, P.K. thinks they will keep playing, because they already loved the game before it evolved into the better version it is today.

▼ The chance to get a shiny Lugia like P.K. might be a good reason to go back…

So there you have it: P.K.’s reasoning for why Pokémon GO might be getting its second wind soon. The game does sound like it’s improved a lot, and I’ll be honest, thanks to P.K.’s explanation, I did open it up again for the first time in a long time to see what it’s like now. Right away I caught a few new Pokémon, and I did feel that familiar sense of excitement starting to bubble up, so maybe I’ll actually play it a little bit more now!

Sadly, though, the success of P.K.’s prediction may depend more on play area than anything else. I’m willing to bet that a resurgence is imminent in Tokyo, where there are already tons of players and lots of stops, gyms, and events. But if your town is like my small town in Spain, where there are all of three Pokéstops and one Gym and probably no one playing, the game might not return to its former glory.

Wherever you live, though, one thing is for sure: if the rumors are true about the upcoming Pokémon Switch game, we will definitely see a worldwide boom of Pokémon GO! We will just have to wait and see to find out.

Photos © SoraNews24
Screenshots: Pokémon Go
Reference: DMR Business Statistics