‘Pokémon GO’ Needs To Stop Trading Global Events For ‘Global’ Events
Another week, another Pokémon GO event that is almost certainly not happening where you live.
The lucky place this week is Paris, France, the next in a number of European cities getting their own private Safari Zone parties with unique spawns and other prizes. We’ve seen events previously in Japan, a few US cities and they’ll likely keep rotating around the planet, maybe reaching you eventually. Or maybe not.
Pokémon GO feels more exclusionary than ever recently, first with its upcoming invite-only Mewtwo raids, but mostly because of this parade of “global events” that have replaced what used to literally be…global events in the game. These are events that are happening around the globe, but are not doing anything for the global playerbase as a whole like the old events we used to have.
I’m talking about Fire and Ice, Worldwide Bloom, the Water Festival, events for Christmas, New Year’s and Halloween. These were truly global events, as they changed how the game was played all over the world, giving out bonuses for certain aspects of the game (XP, candy, walking distance) and changing spawns to be more of X or Y type.
We have seen almost none of these since Pokémon GO Fest in July, which did come with some global bonuses in its wake, and the addition of Legendaries for the first time, but that’s it. Instead, Niantic has now been focusing solely on A) Legendary raids, which are not the same thing and B) these localized events around the world that make 0.1-1% of the playerbase very happy, and everyone else feel like they’re missing out.
I’m not saying these events shouldn’t happen. I think local events for a game like Pokémon GO are very cool. But I don’t agree with how they’ve flat-out replaced special events for all players in the game, when before the launch of raids, we used to be getting 1-2 special events a month. Now? Nothing, ever. Just one Legendary beast to raid for the next month. The last true global GO event was Fire and Ice back in early June (even the one year anniversary event was just Pikachu spawning in a hat)
Of course, bringing back old-school events would remind everyone of the problems that the game is now facing in the wake of raids being by far, the most valuable activity in the game. Before raids, reduced buddy distance, faster egg hatching and rare wild spawns, used to all mean a lot more but now? Those bonuses wouldn’t be quite as valuable, and would probably have to be ramped up to eleven to be attractive to most players. My theory is that many of the game’s old activities need to be changed to be in almost permanent-bonus status, because of how much raids changed the game, and further bonuses would have to be on top of that.
Still, it’s a bit bizarre to be well over a year into the game and restrict things like “altered regional spawns” to select cities every couple weeks. We are 14 months into the game and I can have 12 Articuno and zero Farfetch’d. Something’s gone wrong here.
My guess is that even with two more beasts rotating through the world and Mewtwo coming we might see a return to “true” global events by Halloween, which is the first major holiday to arrive that is an event that Niantic actually held last year. To skip in this year would be even more strange than the situation we currently find ourselves in. Gen 2 has brought new “spooky” Pokémon to spawn in the wild other than Ghastly and Cubone 100x over, and as I’ve said before, they could bring in raids to the “bonus” section of events like these, double daily raid passes, double damage at raids, things like that. But that hasn’t happened yet either.
I know that Niantic is in a unique position with an AR game that can be played outside in localized events all over the world, which makes for fun events like the ones we’re seeing. But every time they do this, they leave the other 98% of the playerbase in the dark with no bonuses, no real reason to get out and play. These special events used to be key to engagement with the game, and GO can’t just keep relying on Legendary Raids for that indefinitely. Combine the new and old systems into something attractive, and players will keep playing. If not? Don’t blame them if they walk away long before a live event comes anywhere near them.