Have you noticed that the Pokemon Go trainers look a little different? The art style is not the same as the one we’ve all come to know and love in the series anymore.
Niantic has been calling attention to this at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco this week. An annual convention for game developers by game developers is currently underway, and will end on March 3rd. Already, countless of updates, reports, and announcements have occurred, but that’s just the norm at GDC.
Among the noticeable changes, trainers in the early prototype of Pokemon Go were the ones used in Sapphire and Pokemon Ruby. The female trainer was also featured, but neither of them made the final game.
Niantic’s Dennis Hwang explained how their goal was to make the trainers look slightly older, to cater to more than just the younger generations. Consider it a marketing tactic to expand the player market.
But has this worked?
As we’ve previously stated, Niantic has announced that Pokemon Go has been downloaded a whopping 650 million times now. The number seems high, but downloads have actually been dwindling over the last few months, pushing Niantic to make some changes.
They are now aiming to launch three major additions this year, in the hopes of both retaining current players, and enticing new interest.
More Than Meets The Eye
But the trainers’ appearance isn’t just about marketing and download prospects, Hwang went on to explain how immersion is put at risk when the character on the screen is too “cartoonish.”
For those wondering what he meant by immersion, think of video games as a fictional land, filled with fictional characters. Much like a visual, interactive story, players want to become the characters (well, in most cases). Role playing games (RPGs) are rooted in this, but other game genres, like first-person shooters (FPSs), also benefit from this. When players feel like they’re in the game, they strive to make better decisions, improve on their gameplay, and spend hours (and money) on it.
When it comes to Pokemon Go, there is no story to be had, and no narrative. It’s simply the act of catching and training pokemon for the sake of Gym battling. But that’s the thing: these are the actions one would expect from the trainers. It’s no secret younger generations want to be older, and the older generations want to play as characters that better resemble their age group. By making the trainers look slightly older, and less cartoonish, they are winning on both fronts.
What’s Your Opinion?
Game developers cater to the players. It’s their job to make art that sells and entertains the public. And as such, they are always striving to innovate and create games that better reflect the wants and needs of their customer base.
So, that begs the question: what do you think of the trainers? Are you inclined to like them more, because they’re less cartoonish, or was it more of an afterthought for you?