The longer Pokemon GO’s legendaries have been out, the more it seems like they’re sucking the life out of the rest of the game.
I’ve said before how raids have been kind of an all-consuming addition to Pokémon GO, as they’re so valuable, they make almost every other type of activity not even worth it. But now the launch of Legendary raids have made even normal raids almost useless as well.
We’ve reached a point where even living in a Pokemon GO hub like Chicago, I can’t complete a Tier 3 or 4 raid because simply, nobody ever shows up to them. I can solo all Tier 1s and most Tier 2s, but Tier 3 or 4s no one bothers with anymore since the release of legendaries, other than a rare Tyranitar one, maybe.
So why is this happening? Many, many reasons, and ones that seem like they’d have pretty obvious solutions.
1) Everyone only gets one free raid pass per day. When the options are to pick between using it on a Legendary raid, and using it on anything else, that choice is obvious, and most of the reason no one is showing up to “normal” raids at all these days. And even if you’re buying premium passes, you are almost certainly buying them for more attempts at Legendaries. The solution here would be to separate out Legendary and normal raid passes, something that did seem to be in the works until Niantic’s botched rollout of Legendaries after GO Fest. That way, players would feel obligated to try at least one normal raid a day for the prizes, which means more of these raids could be completed more often with larger groups (or really, anyone showing up at all)
2) Another key point is that there used to be more people at these raids under the old spawn system. A two hour countdown followed by a one hour raid window. The countdown created a situation where a lot of people would usually be there the moment the raid started, allowing for group completion. And the raid only running an hour meant a smaller window of time people had to show up, also meaning more groups completing raids more often. But with no countdown and two hours of a boss spawn, both Legendary and normal raids alike are suffering.
3) If the reality of the situation is that normal raids are going to draw significantly less people from here on out, make them significantly easier. I feel pretty good about being able to solo Tier 1 and 2 raids, but Tier 3s and 4s are flat-out useless now because I will never get the team I need to beat them. Make Tier 3 raids beatable by a “normal” (ie. not level 35+) team of three. Make Tier 4 raids beatable by a team of five. Or less. Just keep playing with it until the data shows you that these raids are actually getting completed instead of sitting there vacant all day every day. If things are bad in a busy city like Chicago, I can only imagine what they’re like in rural and suburban areas. I know Niantic wants players to play together, but when the only thing standing in your way of raiding is purely a lack of other players, that’s eternally frustrating and un-fun, and it needs to change.
Legendary raids suffer from many of these problems too (I failed a Lugia raid yesterday because I couldn’t get more than five people to show up in the middle of the day in a busy area), but normal raids have been more or less wiped off the map with few exceptions. Any raiding being done is 95% legendary, and formerly tough and fun normal raids are now completely unbeatable as the population is simply not there to support them.
Raids are a confounding activity as they’re the most interesting, most rewarding thing you can do in the game, but the first aspect of Pokémon GO that is entirely reliant on other people to make it work. You could previously catch Pokémon, hatch eggs, walk your buddy and take over gyms all by yourself, but high level raids are a brick wall where you’re relying on strangers happening to be in the same place at the same time as you, and all those other solo activities no longer seem worth it in comparison to what raids can give you.
This summer, Pokemon GO has quickly shifted into being in a pretty weird spot. I maintain that raids are breaking the game in the long run (is it really good for some players to have 300 rare candy and 50 Legendary Birds?) but also raids themselves are fundamentally broken on a few levels. Normal raids more so than ever, now that Legendaries are here. Fix things, Niantic, millions of players are counting on it.