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September 7, 2016 / Jett

I Spent Real Money in Pokemon Go


I generally avoid free-to-play games. Call me old school, but I much prefer the idea of paying for “all” of a game upfront, versus playing a game that nickel and dimes me over the long haul. In particular, I hate when free-to-play games that are so focused on milking money from you that its commerce system detracts from the game itself.

Pokemon Go, while being a free-to-play game with in-app purchases, has been much more palatable. I’ve put in dozens of hours into the game and had a blast without putting in a cent. If I wanted to, I could adjust my play style a bit and continue to play the free way. However, I recently pulled out the credit card and bought a few gold coins.

The free money from gyms

I live in the Greater Toronto Area and work in the downtown core. You can pretty much catch every non-regional exclusive pokemon here, if you’re willing to drive to certain nests or get really lucky. PokeStops are bountiful, so supplies such as PokeBalls, potions and revives are easy to come by.

The problem you will run into involves gyms. There are no shortage of them around, but the competition here is fierce. I live in a suburb, and you’re lucky to hold one gym for an hour. Steff and I even went to a pair of gyms in the middle of the night once, thinking it would be an easy score, only to find Pokemon Go players already trying to take it for themselves. In the downtown core, most gyms are overthrown in a matter of minutes. At most, active gym attackers like myself are going to average just 10 coins a day from taking over one gym.

10 coins a day, relative to other free-to-play games, is pretty good. While it’s the lowest possible payout next to zero, you can get a Lucky Egg, Incense, Lure, or 100 PokeBalls in just over a week. What ultimately got me though, was the storage.

By default, you get 250 spots for pokemon and 350 for items. Since I work right by a PokeStop, I would frequently hit the cap on the amount of items I could hold. However, once the weekend would hit and I was mostly out of the city, my PokeBall rations would dry up.

Furthermore, I’m a big fan of mass evolution with Lucky Eggs on. Hoarding cheap-to-evolve creatures like Pidgeys, I activate a Lucky Egg and evolve everything in one shot. If done correctly, I’ll score at least 60,000 XP in 30 minutes, which would normally take me days to accumulate. In order to perform this, you need space for all of the fodder to evolve before transferring it all out for more candy.

After a month of playing the game, I’ve hit a point where I don’t have enough storage for the ones I genuinely want to keep and the ones I keep just for evolving. At this point, one could simply stop with the hoarding, though the XP jumps give me joy. It also progresses me to higher levels, which in turn gets me to stronger pokemon faster.

Make it rain

Before I paid real money for fake gold, I cashed in the 200 coins I had earned through gyms on additional pokemon storage. This was to act as an immediate fix, as I didn’t have enough space to hold the pokemon I needed for my next round of evolutions. Then, I paid for the 1,200 gold package. With that, I upgraded my backpack and bought eight Lucky Eggs. Now I have 500 gold left over, which I’ll save for a rainy day.

So far, I feel good about my purchases. In the short-term, they fix my storage problem and my lack of Lucky Eggs. Long-term, I hope to generate enough gold from gyms to keep a steady flow of Lucky Eggs coming. Beyond that, I love playing this game and have put a ton of time into it. Giving the developer a few bucks to show my appreciation doesn’t hurt.

Will I spend again?

I wouldn’t rule it out, as long as its a justifiable purchase. Buying PokeBalls is out of the question, as I’m usually in such great supply of them due to where I work. Incense and Lures are personally difficult to justify, as I generally catch garbage each time I use them. Would love to have more Incubators, but I hate the fact that they break after three uses. Odds are, I’ll stick to storage upgrades and Lucky Eggs, as they lead to permanent improvements. As for what you should spend your money on, go with whatever makes you happy!

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