Connectivity issues are par for the course right after a popular game launches. Usually, things stabilise after a couple of days, if not sooner. Pokemon GO has somehow managed to get worse as time goes on. Pictured: Niantic's servers
If you are having trouble connecting to Pokemon GO right now, you are not alone. I've been staring at this for hours now:
Really, this isn't an isolated incident. Most of my experience with Pokemon GO has been defined by technical issues. I can't tell you how many times I have typed my log-in info at this point, or how many Google verification codes I've had to punch in, only to have it fail to retrieve my trainer info. If the app manages to connect to the servers, it still tends to run fairly sluggish on my phone, such that simply navigating menus is a bummer. Sometimes, it takes multiple taps for the game to register that I am encountering a Pokemon. Ten per cent of the time, it will outright crash after I capture a Pokemon. Often, it will just crash for no observable reason. Pokemon GO is the buggiest game I've played in 2016 so far.
Even the mechanics are busted. For days now, every single Pokemon on the Nearby tab displays itself as three steps away, making it almost impossible to track down specific monsters. The whole point of the game is to explore and capture new critters!
Mostly, though, I've been staring at that damn loading screen. Hoping against hope that the blue bar moves up, and the Gyarados goes away. It usually doesn't.
Niantic is definitely working on the game. Actually, Pokemon GO got an update today. Here's what it addressed:
Oh hey, a Pokémon Go update! Maybe they finally fixed some of th- pic.twitter.com/XLcsyXNxxB
— Chaos (@chaos_ultima) July 20, 2016
Yep. It's already become a meme.
Meanwhile, Niantic hasn't said much about what they are doing to make things better. The last update on Niantic's social media is about how they fixed the server issues from last weekend, but there's still no word on things like the three-step glitch, or any of the more recent issues that players are currently grappling with:
The issues causing the server problems have been identified. Trainers should once again be able to search for Pokémon in the real world.
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) July 17, 2016
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about all of this is that, in spite of being a total shitshow on a technical level, Pokemon GO is still sitting on the top of the charts, breaking records left and right. The thing about Pokemon GO is, a lot of the experience lives outside of the actual app. To play Pokemon GO is to walk places, to meet people, to socialise.
I've visited hot lure spots even while my game wasn't working, just to see what was going on with my friends. I'll shoot the shit, mostly about where to find good Pokemon, or what new ridiculous things players have done this time. In the background, I'll still try to reload the game, but if it doesn't work, it's not the biggest deal. I mean, it is a free game.
Even so, I get the sense that Pokemon GO is starting to push the limit of what people will tolerate in a game. If Niantic doesn't manage to turn things around the thing that kills the Pokemon GO fad may not be a lack of features, but rather dwindling interest from a playerbase that can't even get the game to work.