Pokemon Go 2024 New Avatar
Image: Niantic

New Pokemon GO avatars are so ugly players are quitting the game

Put that thing back where it came from, or so help me!

If poor developer decisions and a lack of engaging content weren’t enough for players to quit Pokémon GO, recent changes to playable avatars might be the straw that breaks the Camerupt’s back.

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The “Rediscover Pokémon GO” campaign aims to freshen up the seven-year-old game with fancy location-based graphics, new AR features, and a long-awaited update to player customization. The campaign’s first phase recently introduced brand-new models for player characters, which, unfortunately, look like they’ve crawled out of the depths of our nightmares.

While these new customization options offer long-requested features like hairstyles and body types, they come at the cost of every player looking like they’ve crawled straight out of Bloodborne. Whether it’s the unsettling faces, disproportionately long bodies, or clipping issues with clothing, Niantic has somehow managed to downgrade avatars already below the industry standard.

Needless to say, the /r/PokemonGO subreddit has had a field day of complaints, confusion, and, of course, memes. At the time of writing, the titles of some top posts on the subreddit include:

Many of these posts include side-by-side screenshots showcasing their avatar’s downgrade, while others got their creative juices flowing with some hilarious photoshops. One of the most upvoted posts, submitted by user Entire_pinapple4732, pointed out that wearing a skirt and leaving a small Pokémon in a Gym will allow players to, ahem, stare into the abyss, so to speak.

Niantic’s attempt at a diverse character customization falls as flat as a Stunfisk

Bizarre proportions and moon emoji faces aside, Pokémon GO’s avatar update still falls flat on its primary focuses: inclusivity and representation. Pokemon GO’s trainer customization has been extremely limited for over seven years, and players have struggled to connect with their in-game representations.

Unless you happened to be stick-thin with spiky hair or a ponytail, odds are your character looked nothing like you. Despite new hair options and plenty of body types, the same issue has reared its ugly head. My avatar still looks nothing like me, and my friends’ avatars don’t look like them. 

A comparison of old and new player characters in Pokémon GO
Screenshot: PC Invasion

While the recent update does expand character customization options, choices are minimal. There are limited hairstyles, no facial hair, no piercings, and face presets don’t cater to many lip and eye shapes. 

Two things I will credit Niantic for are including a wide range of body types — as disproportionate as they may be— and afro-textured hair. The more representation available, the better, and hopefully, Niantic can expand on more diverse representation in the future.

I’m not expecting Dragon’s Dogma 2 levels of customization in a mobile game. Still, with seven years of preparation, over six billion dollars generated, and as the highest-grossing franchise of all time, I certainly expected more than this.


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Author
Thomas Cunliffe
Thomas has been a writer in the games industry since 2021 and considers himself a connoisseur of all things Nintendo, Blizzard, and Marvel. Since amassing 152,000+ followers on a Facebook page about Diddy Kong with a backward hat, Thomas has become a trusted voice in the gaming community across publications such as PC Invasion, AOTF, and Gfinity. His greatest achievements include catching every Pokémon, completing (almost) every quest in World of Warcraft, and naming his dog 'Mass Effect 3.' Thomas is extraordinarily passionate about the video game industry and its community. He enjoys writing about a wide variety topics, including popular games like Destiny 2, Fortnite, and WoW, as well as the latest Indie titles.