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Pokémon GO: why very few people will ever “catch 'em all”

A Pokémon GO player at an advanced level of the game has vented his frustrations at "late game" developments that seem to indicate the game is unbeatable.

Published onJuly 20, 2016

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Now this is interesting: as Pokémon GO completes its second week of availability (in some regions), a few players at the higher levels of current game progress have started noticing a few things. Things that seem to indicate an exponentially difficult game as Pokémon GO progresses. To the point that “leveling up” after level 30 requires more experience points than it takes to progress from level 1-25 combined.

This guy 3D-printed a power bank Pokedex phone case for Pokemon Go

Redditor Riggnaros decided to share a few observations about Pokémon GO after hitting level 30 a few days ago, describing the experience of getting there as a “grind”. Chief among his complaints were the increasingly high requirements to level up beyond level 25.

While “scaling” (increasing the difficulty of progressing) at more advanced levels of a game is common practice, Riggnaros pointed out that Pokémon GO seems to scale exponentially, making it essentially impossible to ever finish without spending money. Another Redditor compiled the data which certainly seems to confirm this.

@riggnaros I did the math on possible level caps this morning… I’ll let you decide if you want to look.
— KlikCast (@Klik_Vox) July 15, 2016

Now, Riggnaros is at level 30. The source code of Pokémon GO indicates the game goes up to level 100 (but that could easily increase with an expansion). Riggnaros notes that the Experience Points (XP) required to level up from level 30 – 31 is 500,000: the same XP accumulated between level 1 to 25 combined.

As Riggnaros notes, “the way each level scales with XP is horribly designed. Most people are probably around level 20ish at this point and don’t realize it, but once you get to 25+ it starts to sink in just how daunting each level is when it comes to XP required.”

Once you get to level 25+ it starts to sink in just how daunting each level is when it comes to XP required.

Furthermore, Riggnaros notes that accumulating the XP required to progress becomes increasingly difficult because there is little additional reward for capturing stronger or more rare Pokémon. “Stronger, evolved, and more rare Pokémon should reward you with more XP, plain and simple. It makes no sense that a 10cp Pidgey should be giving the same XP as an 1600cp Scyther.”

Welp,that was quite the endeavor.Going to take a few days off from the game.Far too grindy above mid 20s. #PokemonGO
— Riggimon (@riggnaros) July 16, 2016

This means that in order for a player to progress beyond level 30, roughly a week of collecting low-level Pokémon would be required. This is compared to the relatively speedy leveling up that occurs in lower levels of the game. But Riggnaros also notes that even common Pokémon seem to magically develop enhanced evasive powers once you hit the higher thresholds of the game.

Even common Pokémon seem to magically develop enhanced evasive powers once you hit the higher thresholds of the game

“Once you hit [the] mid 20s, you will start to notice even the most common of Pokémon have an abnormally high chance to evade capture. In no scenario should a 10cp Pidgey/Ratatta/Weedle be able to avoid capture from a lvl 29 Pokémon trainer, much less avoid it 5-8 times in the same battle (no exaggeration).”

Considering the need to use such large numbers of Pokeballs to capture even the most trivial Pokémon, combined with the “astronomically high” XP required, Riggnaros states “From level 29-30 I went through over 1000 Pokeballs. Literally. I cannot stress how ridiculous this would be for someone playing w/o spending coins on Pokeballs (ie playing the game f2p – which is the majority).”

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This leaves a player with two options: tediously farming Pokestops for slowly-replenishing Pokeballs or spend money to acquire them. While this in itself is the nature of most freemium games, Riggnaros’ issue is that the increased difficulty of capture and exorbitant XP required to level up will leave most players with no choice but to spend money or give up playing.

“If [Niantic] are expecting players to sit around and camp Pokestops for HOURS just to have enough ammo to grind their half a million XP (the requirement from 30-31, 500k), they need to rethink their approach….There is a difference between designing a game that takes ‘years to beat’ or [that is]”neverending”, and designing a game that scales horribly and forces you into mind numbing grinding ‘just because’.”

According to the projected scaling data, it would take a player a full year to reach level 40.

According to the projected scaling data, it would take a player a full year to reach level 40. And that’s playing aggressively, accumulating 100,000 XP every single day. While the progress scaling at later levels can’t be confirmed until someone reaches them, at the current rate, it would take four years to reach level 50. That’s only halfway through the game.

Pokemon Go Splash screen 2

As Riggnaros notes, “I can promise you this scaling is out of touch and will be a huge problem in the coming weeks/months if its not addressed.” Fortunately, it is a relatively simple problem to fix. Leveling up could be revised at higher levels, sources of XP could be tweaked and greater rewards could be given for capturing stronger, rarer and more evolved Pokémon.

Whether you think this is a case of sour grapes or poor design, Niantic is going to have to face these concerns sooner or later, even if very few players ever manage to reach them in order to complain. So if you had high hopes of catching ’em all in the next month or two, you might want to think again.

What level are you on? Do you think level scaling is fine or does Niantic have a problem on their hands?

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