Nintendo’s Next Ground-Breaking Idea….Pokémon Sleep?


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With yesterday’s 30-minute “Pokémon 2019 Press Conference” came a whole slew of announcements, including a new mobile game and a transferral system presumably for moving your Pokémon from the game’s 3DS titles over to the Nintendo Switch’s upcoming Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. However, the most interesting of Nintendo’s new ideas was also the most absurd—that being Pokémon Sleep. The company has clearly taken a hint from the widespread success of 2016’s Pokémon GO, which involved users walking around in real life to find and catch Pokémon on their mobile devices using augmented reality technology on their cameras.

Despite the majority of the presentation serving as an explanation of the new app, details were kept to a minimum. What we do know is that the app will function with the use of the Pokémon GO Plus+, an upgraded Pokémon GO Plus device that will track users’ walking throughout the day and also monitor their sleep cycles at night. How? Well, we’re not sure. The video showed a user keeping it next to his pillow while he slept, which raises tons of questions regarding the credibility of the technology’s tracking prowess. How can it tell the difference between an extended lack of movement and a nap? Why not simply keep it in a dark room for hours to simulate sleep?

What we do know is that the Plus+ will send users’ sleeping information to Pokémon GO, which will reward players with in-game benefits. A potential problem with this, however, is that sleep-based gameplay is far more subdued than GO’s usual system of walking around—especially when considering that this type of play removes almost all of the player’s agency. Some users may be drawn to the Plus+ because of the unique benefits it could potentially offer for their GO account, but I wonder how many people would actually be willing to purchase a wholly separate device to access these rewards. The Pokémon Go Plus was $35, and the Plus+ would presumably cost more given its new sleep-tracking technology.

Either way, no one can deny that Pokémon Sleep is an interesting concept. Will it take the world by storm like Pokémon GO? Given the information consumers have right now, probably not. Despite this, I’m excited to see how Nintendo addresses the potential loopholes inherent in the idea of a “sleep-based” game. Hopefully, they are solutions that elongate the lifespan of GO while also developing the way that users enjoy games whose premises are based on their own unique lifestyles.