Can You Upgrade Your Avatar's Appearance?

by Mary Grace Garis

I can still remember the early aughts of Pokemon Red and Blue versions when I had to name the 10-year-old male protagonist, "Mary." We've come a long way, baby; when our childhood obsession was revived with "Pokemon Go," there was a sick thrill in learning that you could not only pick a gender (as is tradition post-Pokemon Crystal), but you can customize your avatar. Of course, the options aren't really far and wide upon starting the game, and as you slowly tire of the awkward shorts-over-leggings mix, you may be wondering if you can upgrade your avatar's appearance in "Pokemon Go."

Brace yourself for disappointment: you're stuck with whatever weird color combo you picked out. But that might not always be the case. The game is still very fresh, and I have no doubt that Niantic could push out more avatar customization options with future updates. The big question from there is, how?

It could be possible that "Pokemon Go" will eventually offer new outfit options for a price. That is, you get the basic options upon starting the game, and then you could buy outfit options from the Poke Shop. Monetizing customization would be a big win for Niantic, and it would make sense because, well, technically you don't need a new outfit to successfully play the game; it's definitely a luxury item.

Don't think it'll work? Games like the life simulation franchise The Sims or the virtual reality world of Second Life have benefited tremendously from selling character customization options (clothes, hair, make-up, etc). These are, however, properties that feature several beings in-game, whereas you only see other trainers when visiting a gym. "Pokemon Go" doesn't really need to differentiate between other trainers, because you're the only trainer on the map. So maybe that wouldn't be the approach for the app.

Another way the game could go about it is by making customization something to work toward. Consider that while there are currently 20 Levels in "Pokemon Go," it might eventually expand with time. With new levels would come new rewards, and perhaps upon a theoretical new reward level 25 or 50 would be more customization options. It would give users another incentive to keep playing and investing in the game... again, monetarily or otherwise.

So there's definite potential in future customization, but honestly? I wouldn't hold your breath. "Pokemon Go" is still struggling to not crash every five seconds, and while the game is slated to evolve with updates like trading and (Pokemon) beauty pageants, I don't see pretty-ing up your avatar as being being a priority. Fingers crossed that one day we'll be able to let our ponytails downs and forgo the leggings, but for now, I would get pretty comfortable with those shorts.

Images: "Pokemon Go"; Giphy (2)