So, that Pokémon GO is the business, right? Unfortunately for people like myself, when you don’t have a data plan on your mobile phone, Pokémon GO feels a stone’s throw away from its best – but even its best isn’t what it could or should have been.
I’ve never really been big into Pokémon; I was born a couple of years too late to be a part of the behemoth it was in the early 90s. By the time I was old enough to really get into cards, it was all Yu-gi-oh and Digimon. My older brother, on the other hand, was big into the Pokémon cards and I’m pretty sure they’re still lying around here… somewhere. Pokémon GO really piqued my interest when it released in the US. After being intrigued by its concept I knew there must be a kicker somewhere and there it was: Pokémon GO needs a constant internet connection through WiFi or mobile data to function properly. Since its release we now know how heavily the app really relies on this.
T-Mobile in the US announced that data consumed by Pokémon GO on T-Mobile devices would be absolutely free for a year. Man, I wish that would happen in the UK; if it does I’m hoping it’ll be for EE – which is the most likely given that T-Mobile UK was absorbed into EE. I’m afraid if they’re thinking of anything Pokémon GO-related it will be a charged service because money, right? I don’t feel any of the phone companies in the UK would have the balls to pull the move T-Mobile in the US did. It’s a no-brainer though: it’s amazing PR, brings users to your network, and keeps the users who were thinking of leaving your network. If EE do it that’s fantastic for me, but if any of the network companies do it I’ll be pleasantly surprised. The first company – if any – to take that initiative here in the UK will get a huge boost in users switching to their service.
Luckily for me I have BT broadband, therefore I can use their free wifi hotspots which are great, but only really useful when you’re stood still. While walking around they drop in and out more than Britain from the EU… (weak I know, but I had to didn’t I?) When it comes to Pokéstops, the best thing to do is to find one that is also a wifi hotspot and just sit there. Thankfully, I’m lucky to have one just up the road from me that’s also a nice hotspot, so I just sit on one of the benches and get those sweet pokéballs and potions inbetween checking other stuff on my phone. Also, as it’s like a three-minute walk from me I’m there in a flash when a lure goes up over there. When you can’t catch as much as the average all-data consuming player you’re more dependent on lures to catch any Pokémon let alone anything rare.
The hardest part for me as someone without a data plan has been trying to hatch eggs; as Pokemon GO needs a constant connection, anytime the connection drops, any walking I’ve done while connected no longer counts towards how far the egg needs to hatch. So one of the things I’ve had to do is walk around my area and figure out where I can hold a connection to Pokemon GO for as long as possible, allowing me to get at least someway through the egg. Even then, it’s not particularly reliable – especially considering Pokemon GO‘s servers are really struggling as it is.
What annoys me most about Pokemon GO is seeing people walk around catching Pokémon with relatively little problem – bar the plethora of issues with the app itself and the servers. Why? Jealousy. Without a mobile data plan I feel I’m just so close to being able to play the game at its best; instead I’m finding any way I can to play it as effectively as possible without said data. So when I walk about with friends to go Pokémon hunting I’m getting very little in comparison to what they’re getting out of their mobile data which leads me to think: what’s the point? I can’t effectively play as Niantic intended; I’m using hotspots, odd glitches within the game, and having the app open at home almost all day to get somewhere close to the “real” experience of Pokemon GO, but it’s still not the same. Most likely I’ll stop playing Pokémon GO when levelling up becomes really difficult – more so than those with data.
I just want to catch ’em all.