Despite the debut of the famous legendary Pokémon Mewtwo in Pokémon GO in Japan yesterday, the news of his arrival was met mostly with dismay, not excitement by fans.
The reason? That would be the announcement that came soon after Mewtwo was given away for free at a stadium event in Yokohama. It would not be so easy for the rest of the world to catch him in Pokémon GO, as Mewtwo will be part of a new “exclusive raid” system that sounds well, frankly terrible. Here’s how Niantic describes it:
“Exclusive Raid Battles are similar to existing Raid Battles, with a few notable differences. Exclusive raids will periodically appear at Gyms around the world; however, unlike existing raids, Trainers will be invited to join an Exclusive Raid Battle.
To receive an invitation to participate in an Exclusive Raid Battle, Trainers must have successfully completed a raid recently, by defeating the Raid Boss, at the Gym where the Exclusive Raid Battle will be taking place. The invitations will include advance warning of when the Exclusive Raid will take place, giving them ample time to coordinate with other Trainers before taking on the powerful Raid Boss.”
In short, you have to raid at X specific gym in order to be able to be “invited” to do an exclusive legendary raid at the same gym at an unspecified time later. What’s unclear right now is what raiding “recently” at a gym actually means. Is it that day? Is it that week? A month? No one knows, and I’m not sure even Niantic itself knows yet, as I asked them directly about it and they said they weren’t ready to comment on the timetable.
But even giving them the benefit of the doubt, there are still an enormous amount of problems with this idea for Pokémon GO players of all stripes. I can think of five right off the top of my head.
1) For rural players, the challenges here are obvious. In many areas, it’s been hard enough to coordinate teams to take down the Legendary Birds or T3/4 raids, and then you’re adding a new prerequisite, raiding at a specific gym in a specific time window, for the chance to even be able to show up to a Mewtwo raid.
In areas like these, it will take an insane amount of coordination, much more so than before, to make sure everyone has invites and is able to participate. And with this being a 49K CP Mewtwo raid, you will need something approaching a full team, and it will be unlikely you can squeak by with some of the teams you may have beaten the birds with.
2) For city players, though GO fans are in larger supply, there are so many gyms in cities like Chicago where I live that picking the right gyms to raid at to get an invite to a Mewtwo raid may be daunting.
This depends on the notification window, and I don’t think players will have to walk around randomly raiding at every gym they see to secure an invite, as hopefully instructions will be more clear-cut than that, but it’s still not a great situation.
Again, even in Chicago, getting a team for a Legendary Bird raid has often not been easy, and I’ve failed many, many raids the past few weeks because enough people didn’t show up. Adding another prerequisite layer for a “super” raid is only going to amplify the problems that already exist with the system.
3) Pokémon GO is still a game that has no in-game group-finding tools. Raids spawn, and you either just go to them and hope people or there, or you hop on Discord or a Facebook group to try to wrangle people to go somewhere at a specific time.
Niantic can talk about giving players “ample time” to coordinate with other trainers, yet the game itself gives you zero way to do this. There’s still not even a “check-in” system for raids, which would be the bare minimum. Raiding should have come with a system like this, instead it’s just “pray people are there” or “coordinate with strangers on a third party service.” Both are not great options.
4) This exclusive raid idea destroys many social aspects of the game. I have a friend who still plays, but only barely, yet when there was a local Articuno or Zapdos raid nearby, they’d re-open the game and try to beat it with me and whoever else was around.
Now, if I’m walking around with that same friend and there’s a live Mewtwo raid, I may have done my “homework” by pre-raiding to get an exclusive invite, but he certainly hasn’t, and it’s going to drive him away from the game even further. And while that’s my situation, I can also foresee a parent getting an invite but their kids don’t, or one kid does but their little sister doesn’t, and so on.
This has the potential to fracture players who would otherwise be playing with each other, which seems like the opposite of what Niantic wants with all its emphasis on social play. And if it is easy to secure exclusive raid passes so this isn’t an issue then…why have them exist at all?
5) More generally, I think it’s idiotic for the concept of a Mewtwo raid to simply be “it’s harder to find teammates for and he’s harder to kill.” Legendary raids have been miserable most of the time, reliant purely on other people showing and getting past abysmal capture rates.
Now that’s amplified with Mewtwo while the raid has zero actual new mechanics. You type-match as best you can, you mash on the screen and hopefully there are enough people there also mashing on the screen until he dies. Then you try to catch him like any other wild Pokémon, only with a 70-99% chance of failure. I am incredibly disappointed that the only bright idea Niantic has had for Mewtwo raids is “exclusivity.”
I’m guessing that Niantic is currently collecting community feedback after this announcement, and I want to join the chorus in saying that exclusive Mewtwo raids are a bad idea, and likely a recipe for nothing but frustration and disaster.
There’s nothing wrong with making players work for the best Pokémon in the game (unless they live in Yokohama, I guess), but this is the wrong kind of challenge, relying on other people to show up IRL to a certain spot having met certain criteria and if they don’t, well, too bad. It’s been annoying enough during legendary raids so far, but now creating even more hoops to jump through is going to be maddening. I hope this idea doesn’t actually end up seeing the light of day.