Pokemon Go Community Days Have Officially Lost All Meaning

I still remember my first ever Pokemon Go Community Day. Having vaguely participated in the first three, it was the fourth one – Mareep, in April 2018 – that got me hooked. It helped that I lived near a park in a town with an active PoGo community, but playing the game in this concentrated burst was exactly what the experience needed, just as it was growing stale.

I didn’t know exactly how it worked. I didn’t know that the shiny rate was 1/24, or whether if one person caught a shiny, they’d be shiny for everyone – pro tip; they aren’t, so don’t subtly-but-not-so-subtly rush over when you hear someone yelp with joy.

Niantic’s decision to trickle out new Pokemon has meant the game has had a longevity that has helped it sustain itself to this day, but it also means the game ebbs and flows. For each new wave of Pokemon, players are pulled back in to keep their Pokedex topped up, but for all but the most dedicated players, the gaps between new content saw them drift away. Community Days, which happen every month and boost a pre-chosen Pokemon’s spawn rate along with their shiny rate for three hours, provide regular updates even when the Pokemon populace remains unchanged.

That’s really only half the story though. Pokemon Go is a single player game, and a very solitary one at that. While features have been added since, at launch there were very few ways to connect with other players within the game. Community Day brought those connections into the real world – parks were teeming with players; kids, parents, adults, couples, families, groups, and a few random dog walkers who had no idea why the park was suddenly so busy at 12pm on a Saturday afternoon. Even if you played alone, just being there meant you were part of the community. You recognised the same faces, you knew the ones who’d duck out after the first shiny and the ones who’d stay for the whole day… it really was a community event.

This peaked with the Clamperl Research Day. The previously unreleased Pokemon could only be found by completing tasks from stops, and while it had the chance to be shiny, it also had two evolution chains, so you needed to find at least two shinies and then hope they evolved into Huntail and Gorebyss. This added a layer of excitement on top of just catching a shiny – you needed two, you had to spin for them, RNGesus needed to favour you, and the Pokemon had never been in the game at all before, so everybody started at zero candies. To boot, all Water Pokemon saw a spawn and shiny boost for the event too, meaning evolved Pokemon in the wild and an increased chance at typically rare shinies. It was a combination of everything that made Pokemon Go great, and regardless of what the player count stats say, I’ll always consider that event the game’s true peak.

A few things have put a dampener on Community Days since 2018, although they still happen each month. The pandemic is the obvious one – it’s hard to play a game that forces you to go outside if you’re stuck inside. Niantic’s slow burn approach also means some players have tuned out for good, especially since we’re now into Gen 6, with fewer and fewer household names appearing in each wave. For me personally, I’ve also moved house, but it’s bigger than that. I’m still aware of my old PoGo community and it has clearly started to disperse. Community Days are no longer the glue that holds groups together.

This was clear at the announcement of the upcoming Community Day – Gible. The land shark is one of the rarest, most popular, and most powerful Pokemon in the game, making them an ideal choice for Community Day. However, the community doesn’t seem to be very happy. That’s because the only ones still playing don’t care about rarity; they’re committed enough to already have a Garchomp. I’m definitely in the lower percentile of players still around, and I have one. Popularity matters not either – it’s all about tactics and meta.

I understand that taking the game more seriously at a competitive level is key to beating Legendaries, especially with fewer trainers around to brute force your way to a win. And if that makes the game fun for people, so be it. But Community Day used to be about getting a cool Pokemon in a new colour – the first one was a Pikachu with the terrible moveset of Surf. As much of the casual community has drifted away from the game, Community Days have ceased to matter. I’m not sure Pokemon Go can ever get that early spirit back.

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