As long as there have been Pokemon, there has been a meticulous grind attached to their mastery.
Gaining access to the very best battlers required thorough tinkering from the moment they are first acquired; breeding for top IVs, a suitable nature, the correct ability, any relevant Egg moves, subsequent EV training, and an infinitesimally small chance that they will be a shiny…
It was a lot, and countless in-game bicycle trips were spent menacingly circling the immediate area in front of the day care center, collecting and hatching eggs en masse before releasing the failed experiments as if they were inbred Chocobos.
And that was just if you wanted to fully dedicate yourself to the competitive scene. Should you instead desire something as seemingly innocuous as completing the PokeDex, there were events to attend. Promotional codes to obtain. Distributions that offered only a finite number of monsters for you to collect.
Nearly ten years ago, I spent several days frantically calling local retailers to see if they had any Diancie codes left. Three years ago, I missed the distribution period for Zarude and ended up buying one from a scalper online.
Nowadays, I can just shrug my shoulders, bide my time, and wait for their eventual arrival in Pokemon GO. Since its inception in 2016, the augmented reality app has reinvigorated the world’s passion for those kooky little pocket monsters, to the tune of more than $4 billion USD in lifetime revenue. That’s almost enough to build three NFL stadiums (or more likely, relocate your team to Los Angeles and let the taxpayers fund it instead).
It was a nice sidebar for the franchise, but little more than that. You can catch a Bulbasaur wearing a party hat, and name him Gideon. Nobody’s stopping you, you’re not harming anyone. I hope Gideon has a lovely birthday.
As of 2020, however, something happened that arguably shifted the balance of acquisition itself. Pokemon GO gained functionality with Pokemon HOME, rendering its previously isolated beasts very much tangible. In and of itself, this mightn’t seem like such a big deal. Between bottle caps that boost IVs, edible mints that alter natures, or ability patches that render hitherto hidden abilities unhidden, the mainline games are more accessible than ever.
With that being said, you still had to earn those benefits. Several of the aforementioned items are harder to come by — with the exception of mints, which are dished out with the regularity of Tic-Tacs — and even using the Masuda method to boost your chances of nabbing a shiny is exactly that; a method. A process. Something you must undertake, in order to reap the benefits.
By the very nature of Pokemon GO’s mobile platform, this is neither feasible nor desirable. The intention is to get it downloaded on as many phones as possible, so to entice would-be trainers, there are community days centered around a particular Pokemon. What that means is that its spawn rate is increased, and more significantly, so too is its chance of being a shiny.
Care to crunch some numbers? The base rate for catching a shiny Pokemon in the mainline games is, as of generation 9, 1 out of 4096. With various modifiers, this number is cut down to roughly one quarter, putting it in the realm of 1 out of 1000.
In Pokemon GO, the base rate is an estimated 1 in 500. On community days, that drops down to approximately 1 in 25. In that window of time, it won’t take long at all before you start rolling in those shinies.
The general consensus amongst the Pokemon elitists — those tongue-clacking stuffed shirts, ferociously gatekeeping what is ultimately a children’s game — is that any monster brandishing that dreaded GO logo is practically non-existent. To see it among the available trade offers on the GTS is akin to stepping in a pile of dog business while crossing the street.
Why, look no further than a GameFAQs thread from last year (cool source Tony, very professional) where one disillusioned Pokemon fan bemoaned the downfall of the shinies. Let me preface this by frontloading the next few paragraphs with a great big [SIC] warning.
“I don’t feel the excitement I use to have finding a shiny anymore, and I blame it on Pokemon Go,” states the woebegone thread creator. “Why should I be excited for a shiny piplup/chimchar/turtwig/shinx etc (who all had Community Days) when I can boot up pogo early next year and just deposit over a dozen shinies for each pokemon into Home and send them to DB/SP?”
“Shinies appear like cockroaches in go,” replies one commenter. “That’s why when I trade I just ignore any offers that have the Go symbol and trade other ones.”
“That’s why I like that Home marks PoGo-caught ‘mons with that big, ugly icon,” explains another. “It separates them from ‘actual’ Pokemon caught from playing the real games.”
“Bold of you to assume i ‘play’ Go,” chides a third. That last one isn’t relevant, I just wanted to mention that they’re kind of a jerk.
Whether the broader community adheres to such standards, however, is ultimately up to the individual. For all intents and purposes, whatever your stance may be on Pokemon received from GO is irrelevant; these are entirely legitimate critters, diluting the once rarefied air with their commonality.
That Diancie that I mentioned previously, once so ephemeral in those innocent days of the 3DS? I could now capture it with minimal effort thanks to the latest Pokemon GO Fest, all for the low, low cost of $21.49. If that sounds expensive, keep in mind that I’m talking about Australian dollars here, so that’s probably the equivalent of $3 US.
I don’t mean to belittle the Pokemon GO community in any manner. Why, during COVID lockdowns, the distraction it provided in my short travels proved cathartic in an otherwise chaotic time of my life. And yes, I could simply abstain from playing it myself, dirtying my hands with those plebian Pokemon and their musky odors.
But I need only remind you: I bought a fucking Zarude off eBay. I don’t have the self-restraint to stay away. I just feel a pang of guilt every time I put them out on the open market, spreading their influence further and further across the corners of the globe.
May the credibility of my Pokemon collection rest in peace.
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