Letters to Niantic: Zorua. I’m not mad, I’m disappointed.

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Dear Niantic,

I try not to be negative. I really do, I look to the positives of every update. I try to see the good in every new feature or change you’ve made to Pokémon GO. From way back when the new gym system was created to the recent updates to stickers.

There’s no nice way to say this. I’m sorry, but I’m also not sorry. 

The release of Zorua was an absolute disaster. It was, and the worst part about it was that it was completely preventable. As a company that had over $880 million in revenue in 2021 the apparent lack of quality control and testing is appalling.

Annual revenue generated by Pokémon GO worldwide from 2016 to 2022


Revenue numbers provided by Statista.

This event had so much potential, the hype leading up to it with the videos on social media were really cool. The idea of your buddy spawning on the map was amazing, and for those who got to experience it made for some really awesome encounters. This is one of the most fun and surprise ways we’ve seen a Pokémon (attempt) to be released, and if it had gone well it would have been so well received by the community.

However, the issues with Zorua weren’t small, they weren’t hidden, they were painfully obvious to anybody who caught one and they were potentially game-breaking. A level 50 100% Slaking maxes out at 5010 CP. Can you imagine a 5010 CP Zorua?! Reddit user Chomper42069 managed to catch a 3162 CP Zorua. You can’t tell me that you tested this, at all. 

Past issues

This isn’t the first time that things have gone awry either. Some of these are server issues, which I will concede that sometimes are out of the control of Niantic staff, but still.

April 2021XP Compensation for Lucky Egg Error
On April 17th Niantic announced that there was an error that affected the use of Lucky Eggs when levelling up friendship, meaning you did not get double XP. The pop-up for the friendship level-ups didn’t appear for several hours so anybody that used a lucky egg to double the XP missed out. As compensation Niantic announced that they had sent 150k XP to all Trainers who used a Lucky Egg from April 11th to April 20th local time.

May 2021Galarian Ponyta Bonus Compensation
Trainers could not encounter the Shiny form of Galarian Ponyta from Eggs or Research Breakthroughs from Tuesday, May 18 until Monday, May 24. So Galarian Ponyta appeared more frequently in 7km eggs for the firs week of June.

August 2021 – Zamazenta Raid Hour Make Up Event.
Mega Pidgeot appeared in raids during Zamazenta raid hour. To compensate, Niantic hosted a make-up Raid Hour for those affected areas along with providing Trainers with a free Remote Raid Pass.

January 2022Trading Compensation
Pokémon GO’s trading was disabled yesterday, following a bizarre incident of a Trainer obtaining 100 Lucky Pokémon in a row. The bug was fixed fairly quickly, and Niantic increased the max number of trades per day to 150 for a few days to make up for it.

April 2022Exeggcute Research Make Up Event
The Spring into Spring event had a special Exeggcute research event. Shiny rates were intended to be boosted during the event, but this feature was not activated for the first 9 time zones that took part. So Niantic held an Exeggcute Research Make Up Event.

July 2022Deino Community Day Make Up Event
Server issues in time zones GMT+5 to GMT +12 prevented trainers from being able to log in, so Niantic held a Make up Community Day event.

That’s a total of 6 “make up” events in two years, and I’m sure we’re going to get one for Zorua announced as soon as they fix whatever is wrong with it. This is wild, for a brand that’s as big as Pokémon and for a game that has a player base as large as Pokémon Go to say that the lack of quality control at this point 6+ years into a games development is disappointing would be an understatement.

Offering Solutions

Someone told me a long time ago that if you discover a problem, you should always come with potential solutions and it’s a mantra that I’ve lived by ever since then. So here are a couple of solutions that I’ve come up with.

Offer beta testing positions to players

This one seems like the best solution. Allow a small subset of the player base to have access to special “beta” versions of the game, lock the versions of the game to only allow certain accounts to log into the app to prevent someone from distributing the APK and lock the new Pokémon so they can’t be placed as a buddy or in gyms and release new features, Pokémon, or whatever to those players first so they can beta test them. Players know the game, players pick up on problems very quickly. Perks being they get access to new pokemon first, access to new features first.

Hire beta testers who actually play the game regularly

This seems like a no brainer. Maybe you actually do already, if so then perhaps an evaluation of the current team is in order after the Zorua fiasco. Not detecting this large of a problem before release is, well, a problem.

Parting Words

Like I said at the beginning, I try not to be too negative when it comes to what happens in Pokémon Go but this debacle was just too much. The event should have gone off without a hitch. The backlash on social media was swift and harsh, and for once I actually agree with it all. 

You have a very loyal player base who has stuck with this game through all of the good and the bad. A loyal player base that deservers better. A loyal player base that needs you to do better.

I’m not mad, I’m disappointed. Do better Niantic, please.

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