You may have noticed a pattern with Pokemon GO these days, that the game will release an event that will get many lapsed players buzzing and playing again and then…it’s over.
The cycle has become so regular, with events coming every month or so, that the two or three weeks in between events when nothing is going on has become a sort of inescapably tedious downtime for the game.
The problem is that without some sort of bonus incentive to play, either a big biome shift where spawns are dramatically changed or an event that doubles XP or candy or lure time or something along those lines, the base game itself is not really engaging enough to keep many players playing.
Obviously there are larger structural changes needed to help with this. I have been asking for in-game NPCs to battle with for ages, for instance, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole for the millionth time. Instead, I think Pokemon GO needs to expand on its daily/weekly login bonus concept with the addition of quests.
Right now, if you’re an “avid” player, all you really have to do every day with Pokemon GO is log in to spin one stop and catch one Pokemon. Doing that will get you a small daily XP/Stardust bonus, and a larger bonus if you keep the streak up during the week.
That’s all well and good, and I certainly welcomed that concept when it arrived in the game, but in practice, it’s not really enough to get players truly engaged. Depending on where you live/work, you can do these daily check-ins in thirty seconds or less, and while you might be prompted to continue playing after that, there’s often no real need to.
Pokemon GO is a game primed for daily and weekly quests, however. Actual objectives that give you a specific task to complete in game, and reward you accordingly. I should not have to explain what a “quest” is at this point, but it’s something that most games take for granted, yet Pokemon GO lacks them.
Daily quests could be relatively easy, yet more involved than spinning a single Pokestop. It could be to spin five stops or catch five Pokemon. It could be to transfer 10 Pokemon, to use incense or set up a lure. To catch a Pokemon in one throw. Minor things like that, but just a little bonus objective with even more XP/Stardust as a reward.
Weekly quests, and possibly even monthly “season” quests would be more involved. Defeat X Pokemon at a gym. Be in the top slot at a gym. Catch X amount of X type Pokemon. Defeat X Pokemon at a gym with an X type Pokemon. Catch X Pokemon in X throws or less. Adjust X to values that make sense.
The rewards here? Bigger XP and Stardust hauls, a mix of regular items, evolution items and maybe cosmetic gear, perhaps, but I also think it would be rewarding and motivating to award actual candy, the most valuable currency in the game, when some of these harder tasks or completed. Maybe completing a weekly quest gets you 10 candy for a Pokemon of your choice. A monthly quest gets you more. Right now, the only two ways to get candy are random catches/hatches and the buddy system, and I think adding quests into the mix are a way to help with that grind.
You could even get more specific with it. If candy for any Pokemon is too broad, give players specific objectives and specific rewards. Maybe this month’s quest is “Defeat 30 Pokemon with Espeon: Reward = 50 Eevee candy.” So that forces you to train with a Pokemon you might not normally play with, or to go out of your way to try and get that Pokemon to start the quest if you don’t have one already. This would bring in something to GO that is missing, the ability to “train” specific Pokemon by battling them, which has long been a staple of the handheld series.
There’s more you can do with this concept. I’ve long said that I think something like Legendary Bird spawns could be handled in “quest” form, giving players a specific list of objectives like these to complete rather than spawning a single Pokemon on some national landmark or something, but I fundamentally think that quests could work as daily/weekly/monthly reward generators, and they would be a way for players to stay engaged with the game even during times when there is no active event running. Which is…most of the time, given how these events are structured.
Quests would not solve all of Pokemon GO’s problems, but I think their inclusion would drive engagement much higher than what we see now with simple login rewards. It would take some time to develop all of these and figure out the proper rewards for each, but it would not actually involve any new in-game mechanics, just a way to track and display what players are doing already. We already sort of have a half-hearted version of this in the form of badges (why badges don’t give you rewards past “capture bonuses” I have no idea), but it would be more obvious and engaging as players try to complete quests whenever possible.
I have a hunch that something like this will make its way into the game eventually, and while I do hope that NPCs and a new battling system and a bunch of other stuff happens soon, this is a more minor addition that I think could do a lot of good.