These games and awards were decided during the Ward Podcast’s Best Games Played 2016 episode, where we considered any and all games played by the members of the Ward Podcast in 2016, even if they weren’t released that calendar year.
With Pokémon Go, Niantic has proven that Pokémon has the ability to stand the test of time. When the original Pokéfans were children, they’d play pretend Pokémon by going outside, turning their baseball caps backwards, and throwing plastic Pokéballs into tall grass to catch invisible animals. Now, Niantic has created a novel approach that combines location-based presence and alternate reality to rekindle the magic we had as children.
Pokémon Go allows you to explore parts of your city, town, or neighborhood that you otherwise would have overlooked. It was an opportunity to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t talk to. It encouraged people to be more active, and they started congregating in cities, parks, and piers.
For a few brief weeks it was beautiful, but nothing lasts forever. The game has unfortunately suffered from rote battle mechanics, severe stability issues, and removed or slow to rollout features that have somewhat doused this otherwise watershed moment for AR gaming and Pokémon. The game doesn’t have the same daily active user numbers that it did at its peak, but it still sits near the top of the top grossing list six months later.
The zeitgeist of everyone on the street trying to be a Pokémon Master may have already passed, but the narrative of Pokémon has always been a much more personal journey. It’s about you, your team, and the bonds you’ve created, and Niantic has captured the physicality of that narrative better than any other Pokémon game that has come before it.