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When Pokémon GO was released on July 6, 2016, coverage by media giants like Forbes and The New York Times helped shoot it to fame. Since then, the buzz has dropped off in intensity. However, the intensity of the players has remained strong enough for players to spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on the game.
Krystal Hoag, whose name has become known by many in the local Pokémon GO community, is one of those people.
“I switched from lottery tickets to the game,” Hoag said.
Hoag, 32, has been living in Lansing for three years. She has become a household name for Lansing Pokémon GO players because of her dedication to the game’s events and her involvement in the local Facebook page “Pokemon go lansing area.” The local group , nearly 3,000-members strong, is a way for players to get connected and talk about anything Pokémon-related. Not only that, it helps players meet up in person, because the game revolves around catching the creatures called Pokémon by physically walking to their locations.
Hoag, also known as SPRCHIK in the game, said she played Pokémon GO as soon as it came out last year. She initially spent $50 on incubators to hatch Pokémon eggs quickly, an item that players can stumble upon. After taking a break from the game for months, she said she spent around $500 after returning.
Katelin Olson, 27, is another Pokémon GO player in the Lansing area who is unafraid to invest in it. She describes the Pokémon GO community as a “mini convention” and a way for her to bond with her father-in-law.
“I work 12:30 to 11:30 at night at Sparrow, but every morning I walk the dogs and I always have Pokémon GO out because I’m getting kilometers for my eggs to hatch,” Olson said, referring to the game’s step-counting feature. “Then when I drive into work, I actually drive differently from what my route was before the game. I pull over at certain spots to spin Pokéstops. When I am at work I take breaks and I play Pokémon GO. I walk toward downtown because that is where all of the Pokéstops are. So, it’s changed a few things of my routine, but not in a bad way.”
Pokéstops provide players with items, but they are only accessible on foot.
Olson said she has spent around $200 on the game. At first it was for egg incubators, which she said are some of her “favorite things” about the game.
She said the money spent adds up over time. Olson said that at first, she would spend $10 on coins now and then. One day, she found she had spent $100 on coins. Coins are used to purchase in-game items to aid with the capture of Pokémon. She said she is still using the coins she purchased, but has yet to use all of them.
There is a way for Pokémon GO players to gain coins without spending money on the game, but a lot of players complain that it takes too long to save, especially with a daily limit of 50 coins.
For players looking to catch a lot of Pokémon, it can be frustrating that coins are not guaranteed every day. Plus, with raid groups like Hoag’s, players only get one free raid pass per day. So, if players want to have a higher chance of capturing rarer Pokémon, spending money on the game is the way to do it.
But even with the potentially significant time and financial commitments, Pokémon GO remains as a popular choice of entertainment.
“I’m not spending extra money that I wouldn’t have been spending,” Hoag said.