For all its grand success in attracting a large playerbase and bringing in tons of revenue, we still fundamentally believe that Pokémon GO is a poorly monetized game.
While we respect it from staying away from paying to skip wait timers, loot boxes or gacha mechanics, we think there’s a lot of work to be done when it comes to its item store, and we fully believe that Niantic is leaving a ton of money on the table by selling a lot of stuff people barely want, and avoiding selling actual, useful stuff that payers would pay for, but it wouldn’t hurt the game in any way.
Those who follow our writing may realize that this is a logical evolution of a recent post we wrote where we talk about how we think Niantic should sell extra buddy slots as a “macrotransaction.” After that, we thought of more and more stuff we think Pokémon GO needs to sell, but realized we’d be writing a dozen articles if we did each one individually.
So, what follows is a list of items that we will admit, is designed to make Niantic money. We mean, that’s the point right? But it’s also trying to feature items that are useful for players, and not everything we mention here could only be purchased with real money, as some stuff might be able to be earned through gameplay in one way or another. Read on to see what we mean.
1. Buddy slots
Again, we really think this is a good idea. We are not going to reiterate our entire argument here, so if you’re curious, just read the lengthy article we wrote on the topic.
2. Temporary PokéStops
This is an idea that occurred to us when we were on vacation in Mexico recently. We lost our seven day streak because we were staying in an area that simply had zero PokéStops. Just none. And that got us thinking once again about the plight of the rural player, where this might happen fairly often. We often forget this, since we live in a big city with a million stops.
The idea is that there would be a purchasable/droppable item that lets you plop down a temporary PokeStop for X amount of time. It would count toward your streak, refresh every few minutes with items, and could be lured. This would be a great addition to the game for rural players, or in certain circumstances like the one we described.
3. Better cosmetic items
While we appreciated the half-hearted attempt to put more buyable cosmetic items for players in the store, Niantic is still barely scratching the surface of what they could actually be selling. Right now it’s something like two, three items per slot in many cases, when they could be doing way more than that.
Also, they need to figure out a way to make the clothing store more prominent. It is completely disconnected from the actual item store, and we bet to this day that 70-80% of players have no idea it’s even there. This is as much a positioning problem as it is an item problem.
We’ve made this argument before, but Pokémon GO needs to introduce a way to change move sets. Nothing is more frustrating than walking a Charmander 100+ km to get a Charizard with no fire moves (which happened to us). We’ve suggested that randomized TMs, which grant one time-use teachable moves to Pokémon, should be in the game.
We think these should be found naturally in the game as (very) rare drops, but we also think they could be sold in the store. To prevent pay-to-win here, there could be a mechanic where say, you could only buy one randomized TM in the store a week, or something like that.
5. Permanent incubators
If we are going to suggest the ability to buy buddy slots, we are definitely going to reintroduce our idea from way back in the day that Niantic should sell permanent incubators to players who want to play a premium for them. In this case, yes, it might damage their disposable incubator business, but again, this is an item you could probably charge $20-30 for and no one would blink.
Sell eight of these to a player that’s $160 coming from a “whale” right there, plus whatever they spend on other items. Not bad for a free to play game, and we think a number of players would spring for this option, even at a high price.