I’ve been terribly wrong. I thought that the Pokemon Go Plus accessory, releasing on September 16, would change the way people were playing Pokemon Go. I thought it may even revive some people’s interest where it has wavered. Now, the week before its release, I’ve realised it’s... not great.
I went for a walk on my lunch break the other day, and after completing a full round of Sydney’s Botanical Gardens realised that I’d missed an opportunity to hatch the eggs I’ve been incubating for at least a month now. Pokemon Go Plus would fix that, I thought. But in reality, it won’t.
The Pokemon GO Plus is a small wearable device that notifies you when Pokemon and Pokestops are nearby. Using the button on the device will throw a Poke Ball without having to use your phone, and the device will indicate whether the catch was successful or not. You can also use the button to collect items at Poke Stops.
This device comes with two big caveats, however:
** Pokémon GO Plus is unable to provide an alert for any Pokémon attracted by the in-game item Incense. ***Pokémon GO does not track distance walked when running in the background.
Many others seemed to be under the same impression as I was — that the Plus would function as an offline pedometer, letting you use your daily steps to hatch a bunch of happy little Pokemon. In fact, the device (despite its similarity to other wrist-mounted step counters) cannot track your steps at all.
If you want your steps to count towards eggs hatching, you’ll have to keep your app open in your pocket the whole time. And if you’re keeping the app open, you might as well just take it out of your pocket to catch Pokemon. The Pokemon Go Plus is not very useful at all.
Catching Pokemon and collecting items from Poke Stops can work when the app is running in the background, however, but this brings up its own unique questions. For one, you can’t tell what Pokemon you’re catching on the device, so you may log back in to your phone to find twenty new Zubats.
It’s also unclear how catching Pokemon will work with just a single button — will it be easier, or will we be subject to the same dismal catch rates as you see in the app? How will the app decide what type of ball to use? Will there be some notifier if you run out of space and/or Poke Balls? I have a lot of questions that haven’t been answered by any of the official materials thus far.
The timing is not ideal, either. Interest in Pokemon GO is waning, and people are still too burnt out on the initial rush to get into a regular (if casual) pattern of plan again. Most of the comments on the Facebook announcement seem to mirror this — going along the lines of "two months ago I would have jumped at this".
Australia and New Zealand will get the Pokemon GO Plus on September 16, and can be purchased either from EB Games (with pre-orders opening Monday 12) or Nintendo's eBay account. Check out the details here. The Plus will retail for $49.95 in Australia. Granted it’s a lot cheaper than the soon-to-be-Pokemon-GO-compatible Apple Watch, but I’m just not sure there’s a real reason for this gadget to exist.