Pokémon Go is still propagating around the world, starting first with official launches in Australia and New Zealand. But players are already spreading information far and wide about how the augmented reality mobile app works and, specifically, what its payment structure involves. Because Pokémon Go is a free-to-play app, it allows players to spend real money on in-game coins. Developer Niantic Labs stresses this is not a way to pay your way to the top, but a method that allows players to buy consumable items they could normally find in the wild without too much effort.
Pokécoins are for the lazy, not the strategic
In other words, the microtransactions in Pokémon Go are more for the lazy than they are the strategic. The game involves moving around the real world and using your smartphone as a gateway to a Pokémon universe in which you can catch creatures, find items at local hangouts, and battle and take control of gyms at notable landmarks. If you're out and about actually playing the game as it's designed, you'll regularly find items like Pokéballs for catching pokémon, incense for luring them, and eggs that hatch potentially hard-to-find pokémon. If you don't have that kind of time, you can buy in-game currency to purchase those items.
Whatever your position on microtransactions, Pokémon Go's seem relatively innocuous for now. It does let you spend up to $99.99 for 14,500 Pokécoins, an absurd amount that should result in an evaluation of life choices. Then again, many other free-to-play apps also indulge that kind of self-destructive behavior, so Niantic isn't alone. For those curious, here's a full breakdown of the coin conversion rates and what the currency buys you: