I had high hopes that Monday's big Pokémon Go "Gen 2" announcement would be special, a real improvement to keep players invested. Instead, it feels like yet another cash grab.
Pokémon Go update explained: How Niantic is playing us all
In the past week, we've seen Niantic make two big announcements that turned out to be little more than branded sponsorships. Instead of making actual improvements, it partnered with Starbucks and Sprint to turn stores into PokéStops and milk a few more bucks out of the Pokémon Go craze.
Today's update is hardly different. While all the hype is centered on the game's new Pokémon, the actual update is a thinly veiled prompt to spend more money in the game.
Here's how the Dec. 12 Pokémon Go update works. The two new Pokémon, Pichu and Togepi, can now be found in the game. However, the only way to find them is by hatching eggs, a two-step process that requires obtaining an egg at a PokéStop and then physically walking while the egg is placed in an incubator until it hatches.
There's no way to know which Pokémon a specific egg contains without hatching it, and even if you did, there's no way to discard unwanted eggs. Additionally, you can only hold nine eggs at a time. As a result, incubators, which run out after several uses and cost at least $1 each, quickly became one of the most popular items to purchase in Pokémon Go — even before this update hit.
So by putting an even bigger emphasis on eggs in Pokémon Go, Niantic is essentially pressuring people to buy more incubators.
The fact that the company is teasing "several other Pokémon" beyond Pichu and Togepi makes it even more tempting to stock up on incubators using real, hard-earned money. Incubators also happen to be one of the most expensive items in the game. What are the chances?
Pokémon Go update issues: It's not just about the money
Niantic may be angling for more revenue, but that's not the only potential issue with this Pokémon Go update. For one thing, much of the Pokémon Go-playing population is currently suffering through winter. Personally, I don't exactly feel like walking around in sub-freezing weather just to hatch an egg that may or may not contain a new Pokémon.
The situation is even worse for people in less populated areas. If you're not in a city, you're less likely to run into PokéStops where eggs are found, and it's possible the few PokéStops in your area could be skewed not to generate the right types of eggs. Additionally, walking around while playing the game is a lot less appealing in rural areas with less Pokémon Go activity in general.
Pokémon Go update: Is there any silver lining?
For die-hard Pokémon Go fans, this update is still good news, even if it's not the news we were all hoping for. Adding new Pokémon to the game should give people a reason to keep playing and keep gym battles interesting, especially with the possibility of even more new creatures coming soon.
But for lapsed players like me, the addition of a few new Pokémon and a renewed focus on egg hatching (and the expensive incubators it requires) isn't going to do much to get me back into Pokémon Go.
More Pokémon Go hacks, tips and tricks
If you're still playing Pokémon Go on a regular basis you may also want to check out Mic's guides for the game. Here's the new top 10 attackers list and the new top 20 rankings following the balance update, guides on post-update Chansey and Rhydon, everything you need to know about finding the long-awaited Pokémon Ditto, creating new PokéStops, how to maximize your chances of catching Pokémon and fresh information about how PokéStops distribute Pokémon eggs.