I'm a Pokémon Go launch player — in 2024 the game's better, but not in the way I'd hoped

Pips and Pixels Pokemon Go
(Image credit: Future)
Pips and Pixels

Pips and Pixels Boxout

(Image credit: Future)

Pips and Pixels is a column from James Bentley, iMore's resident gaming expert, discussing all things gaming in the Apple ecosystem. Pips and Pixels explores the latest news, accessories, and titles you might have missed out on, and brings you commentary from the leading developers in the app market. As recent advancements in the Apple Silicon M processors and the brand new A17 Bionic chip show, Apple is becoming more serious about gaming. James looks to the rest of the games industry to see what could be next for Apple gamers.

In a cocktail of nostalgia, and the desire to gamify my exercise, I’ve recently downloaded Pokémon Go again after eight years. After struggling to remember my account name and password, I managed to get access to my account, complete with all my Pokémon and items. In the three or so weeks since picking it up again, it’s a much more complete game than the one I remember, yet it feels like it outgrew many of its initial mechanics. 

See, many things have happened since I last played the game. I myself have become an adult, gained a degree, and moved countries. My tastes have changed and so has the amount of free time I have. I half expected to entirely bounce off it and not enjoy the experience as I once had but it’s a winning formula that became even more fun when my partner started joining me on outings. However, its monetization system hasn’t gotten any nicer, and the world has just gotten bigger. I have more options than ever before in Pokémon Go yet I feel limited in what I can actually try. 

Here’s how my time with Pokémon Go has gone so far. 

How has Pokémon Go changed?

I was hit with notifications constantly at the start of my time with the game. There was an event on, I had apparently farmed some items since I last played the game, and a whole new quest tab had popped up. In this new quest section, I found that I could tick away boxes by doing simple activities like catching Pokémon, taking on gyms, and more. Suddenly, the game gave me a lot more to play with than I otherwise thought, and I didn’t necessarily need to walk to get some gameplay out of it. This is presumably an effect of the 2020 pandemic, and subsequent lockdowns — a game entirely reliant on getting out of the house needed a reason for people to play even when they couldn’t. The quest tab does a good job of rewarding you for many different aspects of play and I have felt constantly encouraged to do even small actions from the start. However, I’ve already started to notice it all slowing down. 

These quests allowed me to sprint into the game then, suddenly, I stopped gaining levels as fast and rare Pokémon became even rarer. Though the introduction of raids, events, and Team Rocket make it a much more engaging experience, there are issues that were present in 2016 when it comes to its in-game currency that feel even more restrictive now. You start with space in your inventory for 300 Pokémon and 300 items. When there was only a single generation of Pokémon, Totalling 151 to catch, this meant you could technically “catch ‘em all” without spending 200 coins (or about $2) to upgrade to a larger inventory. With over 800 species in the game now, you will need to spend at least at least 2000 coins ($20) to just get the space to house them all. From here, you also need to buy more inventory space for items, to hold all the berries, Pokéballs, and whatnot to do all the timed events and quests. After all of this, you may also want to spend money on passes, incubators, and incense (though they’re not as good as they used to be) to get what you want quicker. 

Right now, you can technically earn those coins through holding Gyms but, if you’re in a rural area or don’t want to wait a week for a single upgrade at some points, spending money is the only viable way to avoid running out of space and removing items you might want later.  Given you want to hang onto potions and revives for battles, Pokéballs and berries for catching Pokémon, and raid passes for a mixture of both, you are often forced into only playing aspects of the game when you have a limited inventory. 

The game has got a lot bigger since 2016 and that space for holding items and Pokémon has managed to stay the exact same. I don’t want to spend any money on Pokémon Go and, at this point, that may just stop me from actually playing it. 

Calendar: July's Big Game Releases

Zenless Zone Zero

(Image credit: MiHoYo)
  • Zenless Zone Zero, the follow-up to Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail, was shown off at Apple's iPad event this year, and that M4 chip is sure to get the most out of it. It's free-to-play, looks gorgeous, and is out this week. 
Swipe to scroll horizontally
GamesRelease DatePlatformsPlayable on Apple?
Resident Evil 7 (Apple Port)July 2Mac, IOSYes
Zenless Zone ZeroJuly 4PS5, PC, iOSYes
Once HumanJuly 9PCNo
Dungeons of HinterbergJuly 18Xbox, PCNo
Flintlock: The Siege of DawnJuly 18PS5, Xbox, PCNot natively

Level Up — Gaming accessories on our radar

If you’re looking for a nice keyboard to pair with one of the best Macs, 8BitDo has launched a gorgeous new mechanical keyboard that is at a great price too. It may be missing some Mac-specific controls, but makes up for it with a fantastic look, awesome sound, and some nice macro controls.

8BitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard | $99 $81.05 at Walmart

8BitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard | $99 $81.05 at Walmart

As we said in our 8BitDo Retro Mechanical Keyboard review, “It may be fun to look at, but this is a serious mechanical keyboard that even the pickiest of enthusiasts will be able to enjoy, and at a great price, too.”

Hitting the Arcade — What to play on Apple Arcade

Pips and Pixels Hitting the Arcade

(Image credit: Future)

Apple Arcade is filled with tons of exclusive experiences and fantastic games. However, with so many out there, it can be hard to decide what to play. Here are a few choices I've been testing out this week:

I’ve spent some time testing out Tomb of the Mask+, a version of the classic iOS game on Apple Arcade. In it, you have to swipe, to throw your character from wall to wall, in order to collect coins and get to the end of a mission. It’s still decent fun on Apple Arcade but the game has a noticeable lack of microtransactions that are used in the free version. You can pay coins earned by playing to revive, rather than replaying a level so this meant I often felt intentionally slowed down without any in-game system to speed it up. It’s worth playing for the nostalgia but comes with a little frustration. 

Have you played any great games this week or seen some interesting Apple gaming news we've missed? Let us know in the comments!

James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.