Pokémon Go, Monster Hunter Now, Pikmin Bloom… Three vastly different games, all venturing into the world of AR, encouraging folk to head out into the world and explore, and picking up a pretty penny along the way. But there’s one franchise that would fit this genre absolutely perfectly: Digimon.
Ever since Niantic released Pokémon Go back in 2016, the same thought has been on my mind. Digimon live in a digital world, they drift around in our telecommunication networks, and exist in a parallel universe to ours. An app that allows you to walk around your neighborhood, scanning the area for digital monsters, and housing them in your Digifarm to eventually Digivolve into ultimate and mega ‘mons makes a lot more sense than Pokémon in an app.
Not sold yet? Let me expand a little more on these ideas and maybe we can all lightly nudge Bandai into making our wishes come true. If you’re anything like me, you may have had a Digivice when you were a kid. You know, those little brick-shaped, Tamagotchi-like devices that allowed you to raise a Digimon by feeding it, training it, getting it to bed on time, and even picking up its poop.
Well, Bandai has released numerous iterations of this device since we were young, including a neat color screen version that’s currently sitting in my Amazon basket, and a fairly recent very ugly smartwatch-esque device called a Vital Bracelet. This watch also just so happens to have a companion app that allows you to send your digital pal to your phone. Now, this app isn’t bad, but it’s very bare-bones, simply allowing you to transfer your partner and battle online, but it could be wonderful with a few tweaks.
We live in an age where everyone has a mobile phone (and if you don’t you should probably check out our guide to the best gaming phones), so creating a Digivice app with functionality to link to any of the Tamagotchi or Vital Bracelets like Pokémon Go connects to the Pokémon Plus + feels like a no brainer, especially when Bandai has already laid some pretty good groundwork for exactly that.
I think a standalone app would be a great first step. The current die-hard Digimon fans out there, myself included, would download it straight away, and with some good marketing and a solid roadmap (as seen with Pokémon Go) it could pull in a much wider audience of AR fans. Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t want a Go clone. I want more.
I want to start the game by choosing one of a selection of brightly colored eggs, before it hatches into an adorable baby Digimon with branching evolution paths that require different actions to obtain each creature. I want to walk a few kilometers to receive Agumon, get my Tsunomon to bed on time to receive Gabumon, or even forget to pick up some poop to receive Numemon.
Aside from my main partner, I want to have a Digifarm full of Digmon I’ve befriended by taming monsters around town, scanning barcodes, or completing in-game tasks. I want to send these ‘mon on missions to collect resources and train while I’m AFK, then take them into online battles along with my partner. I want the full Digimon experience in bite-sized chunks that encourages me to get up on my feet just as Go has done every day since its launch.
The main thing that puts a lot of people off mobile games is predatory monetization. Personally, I’ve never felt the need to put a dollar into PoGo, but I’m aware many don’t like the way they monetize things. In my ideal Digivice app, I can see myself putting cash into cute cosmetic Digimon accessories, a monthly subscription or battlepass for extra goodies, and I would be guaranteed to buy a Tamagotchi or a much more sleek smartwatch with connectivity to the app.
On the flip side, there are some very undesirable forms of monetization, these would include pay-to-win mechanics that give someone with extra cash an edge over others, paywalled Digivolutions so I couldn’t get my favorite Digimon, and intrusive in-game ads that pop up and don’t allow you to continue without enduring them. We wrote a whole feature on Marvel Snap prices, just in case you want more of our thoughts on mobile game monetization.
So, Bandai, the ball is in your court. Give the fans what they want and let me carry a Psychemon round in the comfort of my phone. Till then, you’ll find me playing the best Digimon games available on Nintendo Switch. If you haven’t tried them yet, our Digimon World: Next Order Switch review or Digimon Survive review may twist your arm.