Without question, the biggest thing that happened in iOS gaming this week was the disastrous Pokemon Go Fest that took place in Chicago last Saturday the 22nd. The event was hyped to unbelievable levels in the Pokemon Go community, particularly as exclusive in-game rewards for attending were teased. This led to people from quite literally all over the world flying into Chicago to participate in what was thought to be the premiere Pokemon Go event. Having been to large Pokemon Go meetups where cellular networks were crippled by the people in attendance, I was curious to see how Niantic was going to solve inevitable connectivity problems.
Right around the time the event was set to start, massive server problems and crash bugs hit Pokemon Go. Then, as more people started flowing through the gates, cellular networks were so crippled that it was incredibly difficult to get online to even attempt to connect to the game. Throw in the exquisite misery of an unbelievably hot and humid Chicago summer day, people who paid anywhere between hundreds to thousands of dollars to travel to the event, and a game that straight up doesn't work, and you were left with crowds eager to boo and heckle any Niantic representative that took the stage.
This eventually resulted in Niantic refunding everyone's tickets, along with giving all players who came $100 worth of premium in-game currency as well as the legendary Pokemon Lugia. I've posted more details on the day over on TouchArcade, and we discussed it on our podcast, if you want to dive even deeper into the Pokemon Go Fest fallout.
In other news, we're huge fans of both Demon's Rise as well as its sequel, Demon's Rise 2. They're highly strategic turn-based games that don't reinvent the strategy RPG genre, but instead just execute it really well on touch devices. Another game from the same developer titled Strike Team Hydra is due to launch in mid-August and we're super-excited for a continuation of gameplay reminiscent of the Demon's Rise series, but set in a futuristic environment. Strike Team Hydra is definitely a game to keep an eye out for in the future.
Don't say I never gave you anything. pic.twitter.com/Ud30sW4DeY — Pocket Mortys (@PocketMortys) July 24, 2017
To coincide with the new season of Rick and Morty premiering this Sunday, Pocket Mortys is continuing to get loads of new season three content. If you haven't tried the game yet, it's easily among the best Pokemon-likes on the App Store, except instead of catching Pokemon you're catching Mortys. It's free to play, but the monetization scheme is very player friendly. Rick and Morty fans will find loads of in-jokes, and everyone else will just find a really competent lightweight RPG battler.
One thing we've kept our eyes on waiting for it to go anywhere is mobile virtual reality. Google Cardboard and Galaxy Gear-like headsets are a good (and low cost) way to get involved in virtual reality, but none of the "mobile" VR headsets out there are really that portable. A Swedish startup aims to solve that problem with the "Moggles," a pair of VR goggles that compact down into a case that's significantly more portable than existing solutions. I'm still not sure what the killer app is for mobile VR, but at least the headsets are getting better?
The Elder Scrolls: Legends has finally been updated to be universal, which should greatly grow its playerbase if Hearthstone's path to success was any indication. Legends is another digital collectable card game, but with a level of complexity that should satisfy hardcore card gamers. For more information, check out our interview with Pete Hines, Bethesda's VP of PR/Marketing.
Last, but not least, is a huge update for Phoenix II which adds support for the 120 Hz screen of the new iPad Pro. It's impossible for me to capture in video just how much of a difference this makes when playing the game, but needless to say, if you've got a new iPad Pro you need to give this game a shot. It really wouldn't surprise me if Phoenix II found itself on the demo iPads on the Apple Store, as tons of fast moving objects on the screen at high refresh rates do a great job of showing off the screen.
That's all of the big stories from this week, but as always, if you're interested in iOS gaming and want to easily keep your finger on the pulse of the mobile gaming scene, check out TouchArcade. We post this kind of stuff, along with news, reviews, guides, and more all week long.
Top Rated Comments
Playing in a small town has always posed a problem for collaborative aspects of the game, but I'm not sure I really see a way for Niantic to fix that, in a game that uses the real world as the game board.
When you have millions of players/customers, it's difficult to give individual responses to most questions (unless said customers are all spending hundreds/thousands of dollars each, like with Apple/etc. - otherwise it's hard to fund a large support department).
FWIW, the popular media has covered Pokemon Go Fest as a horrible unrelenting disaster where millions of players lost their lives, but looking beyond the headlines, it seems like there were substantial problems, but also fun to be had. If you're curious, check out the PoGoFest-related videos from Trainer Tips ('//www.youtube.com/channel/UCrtyNMe3xtv3CLg5QR78HzQ'). (Yes, Niantic did pay for his hotel and airfare, but he's been very upfront about that and has been very level-headed in his coverage of the game over the last year, so I tend to believe his take on things.)
Cheaters suck. And, oddly, playing in a populated area can be a little disheartening when all the gyms were stuffed full of high-level Dragonites, Tyranitars, Snorlaxes, and Blisseys (and almost always the other team). I could spend an hour taking down a gym, only to have it filled back up with ten Dragonites and Tyranitars the next morning.
I'm level 33 and finally got enough candy to evolve a 96% perfect Dragonite recently (after nearly a year of collecting candy), and this last week's crazy-go-nuts doubling of everything (the worldwide "rewards" from PoGoFest) netted me enough stardust to finally power that Dragonite up to just over 3000 CP (my first 3k+ Pokémon). He takes his place in my small 2500+ crowd alongside a pair of really good Machamps (both evolved from Machops, and fighting types are what you really want for Tyranitar/Snorlax/Lapras raids), and a couple of really good Vaporeons, but my favorite attacker is still an Exeggutor with Zen Headbutt/Solar Beam. A face-full of Solar Beam just takes down all sorts of Pokémon. So satisfying. BTW, this page: Raid Boss Counters ('https://pokemongo.gamepress.gg/raid-boss-counters') is really helpful for figuring out what Pokémon to use against each raid boss.
(And the app Poke Genie ('https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/poke-genie-for-pokemon-go-auto-iv-calculator/id1143920524?mt=8') is great for figuring out which Pokémon to evolve/power up and which to recycle - you feed it screenshots and appraisals, and it tells you their IVs and "% of perfection" and ranks their movesets - it crashes at least as much as the game itself, but it's still extremely useful.)
You'll hate me for this, but from my couch I can see 6 Gyms and over 20 PokeStops. But that doesn't mean that it's raining high-level Pokémon here. Over the past year, in a big city, I caught 2 Snorlaxes in the wild (after never seeing one outside a gym for the first 6 months, I caught 2, at random, about a week apart - both with terrible IVs but one with the best moveset, Lick/HyperBeam - it's a shame she's only 29% perfect), and I walked that better Snorlax 196km to get enough candy to power her up. I also walked a MagiKarp over 100km in the process of getting enough candy to evolve a 100% perfect Gyarados. And currently I have 30km on that Lapras I got from a gym raid.
If you haven't already looked into The Silph Road's Global Nest Atlas ('https://thesilphroad.com/atlas'), it's worth a look (as are some of their other tools, and especially the Silph Road subreddit ('https://www.reddit.com/r/TheSilphRoad/') - all sorts of good info there - also a decent place to search for/ask for pointers to a more local group).
I think the problems are: a) it plays better in populated areas but they can't tell you precisely where every one of those are in meaningful ways ("offer void in the following 17,000 small towns: ........."); and, b) to make it not be an entirely different experience (well, different, but some sort of level playing field), they'd need to write a substantially different game for less populated areas, and they've had their hands full with just what they've got working so far.
I complain here and on every pokemon go post I see because Niantic will not respond to my "support" questions. All automated nonsense. I know it gets old to read but that's the reason
I got my 'eye' on you!
And there were a few times I found gyms defended by Pokémon at level 3000 and they'd only just been released a day before. So my daughter and I figured there had to be some kind of cheating going on. I do credit Niantic for trying to stamp out cheating.
It's hard for me to find any because there are no spawns around my house and im 8miles from a pokestop. I like how challenging it is to get good pokemon for me, it just blows my mind how easy it is for city players. I had to walk 128km to evolve into charizard and oddly, I feel good about that.
I don't get how Niantic can market a game for everyone, but yet make one segment of the population have an entirely different experience. Niantic is still to acknowledge this is real.
It would be little better if Niantic would add in a tracker, because you can't tell where the Pokémon in "sightings" are even at. Even a cold and hot approach to tracking would be awesome.
When I was completely unable to play the game, or participate in any of the challenges short of standing in line at the water tent, I shifted gears to talking to as many people as I could. I wasn't cherry picking only people who looked pissed, but rather, just anyone who gave me any level of eye contact or otherwise looked like they might be interested in talking to a stranger with a media bracelet.
The vast majority of the people I talked to were unhappy at best, most were disappointed, and some would uncomfortably rant about the game and the event because you gave them an opportunity to. Were people able to play Pokemon Go throughout the day? If you're on the right carrier, and were patient enough, sure. It also wouldn't surprise me if it got better later in the day, as most people started leaving by around 3:00 in the afternoon. Were most people having a good time and glad they came? In my experience, no, and again, that's from talking to dozens of people floating about the event.
What seems more likely- The actual real-deal media outlets who were there, at the event, and talking to people in attendance at the event are making up these headlines and Pokemon Go Fest was actually a really good time for everyone there OR are the YouTubers who quite literally make their living on Pokemon Go, who are paid by Niantic top to bottom, are sugar coating absolutely everything because their livelihood depends on Niantic?
I have no reason to lie, or embellish things. The worst thing that happens to TouchArcade is we need to buy a $20 ticket to the next Pokemon Go Fest instead of getting a media badge because they were mad enough to remove us from their media lists. Our world keeps spinning. If these big YouTubers get cut off, and can no longer participate in these exclusive reveals and other things that drive their channels... Where do they go from there?
I think the sooner people realize that YouTubers, particularly the bigger ones, aren't these universally objective arbiters of truth and instead quite often are up to their necks in behind the scenes promotional contracts which has a massive impact on the videos they produce, the better.