Pokémon Go’s had a big summer, but the backlash has been just as large. Players are debating whether or not the game is fair to everyone, following exclusively available legendary Pokémon and the limited nature of the game’s new Raid Battle feature. Now, a top personality in the community — Nick of YouTube’s Trainer Tips channel — has spoken out, opening up the conversation to a larger audience.
The video above is a 20-minute commentary on players’ feelings that Pokémon Go is skewed toward urban players or those who have the means to travel to the game’s special events. These include the recent Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama, Japan, which culminated with a special Pokémon Go battle where attendees had the opportunity to catch the world’s first Mewtwo.
Nick has participated in most of Niantic’s big Pokémon Go promotions. He was in Japan for the Mewtwo Raid Battle, where he was one of the limited number of players who caught a Mewtwo. He also has the other legendary Pokémon, each of which is only obtainable through winning a multiplayer Raid Battle.
But Raid Battles have become a controversial part of Pokémon Go since they launched in June. Their cooperative nature prioritizes players with access to other high-leveled trainers, which those in rural areas often don’t have; Raid Battles also make it difficult for more casual fans of the game to collect the most special Pokémon.
But “as it stands, with Raids, it’s actually easier to find multiple Zapdos in a day than it is to find, say, Chansey or Larvitar,” Nick argues. “So there’s no challenge in finding them. The challenge is in beating them or catching them.”
That may be true, but it doesn’t help those who struggle to find or win Raid Battles. With the Exclusive Raid system that Niantic plans to launch later this year — that’s how players worldwide will be able to catch the legendary Pokémon — players are concerned that they won’t get a chance to capture Mewtwo. They’ll need to have already successfully completed a Raid Battle in order to even qualify for the Exclusive ones, which just isn’t possible for every player.
But perhaps catching Mewtwo shouldn’t be so easy, Nick says. “A lot of people were upset that we got 100 percent catch rate on Mewtwo at the Pokémon Go Stadium event [in Japan], because Mewtwo’s supposed to be a hard-to-catch Pokémon,” he said during the video. Nick added that Niantic had to give Mewtwo to the players who traveled from around the world to the Japanese outdoor event, in order to avoid burning visitors out, like what happened during the disastrous Pokémon Go Fest.
Reaction to the question of Pokémon Go’s fairness remain divided.
“It is simply poor game design to introduce a legendary Pokémon that is going to be very difficult to capture, Mewtwo, into the game by first arbitrarily handing it to the thousands of people who happen to live in a particular area,” wrote NoPr0bl3ms in a comment on Nick’s video. “There is literally no need to do this and it just further splinters the community. Niantic rolled out a game with a great premise a year ago that caught the attention of millions, but ever since then it really seems like they just have no fucking clue how to hold onto their player base.“
Other commenters took issue with Nick’s assertion that Pokémon Go is unfair in the same way that life is.
“[Pokémon Go] is not like the show or any of the other games,” commented Nicolas Flores. “Now we have to travel across the world for events? Fuck that man. No, it’s not like Carnival in Brazil. You know why? Because it a fucking mobile game.”
But according to top fan site Pokémon Go Hub, talking about whether or not the game is unfair at all is misguided.
“The truth is, Pokémon Go will never be ‘fair,’ if you consider ‘fair’ to imply that everyone in the world has the same opportunities in the game,” the team wrote on its site. “It’s a GPS powered AR game, and no matter what Niantic does, the game will never be balanced completely.
“Unfortunately, Pokémon Go will always inherently be an experience powered by real world constraints, such is the nature of AR gaming. With that, you should always expect that there are things you will not be able to do.”
As one of the most popular mobile games in the world, Pokémon Go will likely always be polarizing. It remains to be seen how Mewtwo and other legendary Pokémon splinter the community.