We Need to Talk About Community Day

Over the last year, Community Day has gone from being one of the most anticipated announcements each month, to something greeted with groans and disappointment. So what has gone wrong and how can it be fixed?

Community Days during the Coronavirus Pandemic

In 2020, Niantic had to adapt to a situation the world never thought it would be in, a devastating global pandemic. The first Community Day affected by this was Abra, which was originally scheduled for March 2020. It was cancelled, and ultimately rearranged to become the first ever ‘at home’ Community Day.

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The time was expanded to 6 hours which was a welcome addition, giving many people much more time to catch those shinies, even if the only way they could do it was sat on their sofa at home. Our Buddy Pokémon brought us Pokéballs to help us play without Pokéstops. Incense lasted a whopping three hours. The changes were very welcome, and much needed.

The idea of a Community Day without the community wasn’t the same, but at least it was something we could look forward to and do safely from home.

Abra had been a much anticipated shiny release, after it was accidentally released at Pokémon GO Fest 2019 in Chicago and swiftly turned off in game once the mistake was caught. It made Abra an incredibly rare shiny, potentially the rarest, so people were hyped for this Community Day. It was a different experience, but it was successful and people seemed fairly pleased with how it went.

We understand not wanting to ‘waste’ amazing Community Days on ‘at home’ events when we can’t be together, but the choices of Pokémon we are getting are so lacklustre that it is difficult to be excited for Community Day at this point.

Are recent CD focused on PvP too much?

Next up came Seedot Community Day, then Weedle. Both of these were new shinies, with a focus on PVP-centric moves. In fact, after Seedot, it could easily be argued that all of the Community Day Pokémon were chosen due to their viability in PVP, with PVP moves as their exclusive moves.

Gastly, Magikarp, Porygon, Charmander, Electabuzz, Magmar, Machop and now Roselia, were all given moves that didn’t help with the raid meta, but could have some play in PVP. They weren’t all particularly great additions for PVP, few had much effect on the overall rankings for PVP Pokémon, but the focus on PVP was obvious.

Way back in September 2020, we asked our Twitter followers why they play Pokémon GO. With over 14,000 votes, only 8.6% of those who answered said their primary focus was PVP. A massive 47% said shiny hunting was their preference, followed by casual gameplay, then raiding, with PVP coming in last:

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Focusing so many Community Days on moves and Pokémon that are only relevant to PVP alienates what appears to be a majority of the player base. With a lot of amazing PVP focused content creators it is easy to think that there are a lot of dedicated PVP players, but the reality is, there are hardcore PVP players, those who play as little as they can but play to get the rewards, or those who don’t play at all.

By focusing entirely on Community Days that have movesets that only have impact on PVP, people are a lot less interested. Remember the hype for Meteor Mash Metagross or Tyranitar with Smack Down?

Not every Community Day needs to break the meta, but it would be great to see a Community Day that is for PVE, rather than a niche PVP move. That way it would be something for everyone, rather than just a small part of the player base.

Lack of New Shinies

2020 brought with is some serious disappointment in terms of the Community Days that featured Pokémon whose shinies had already been released in game. In fact, a large amount of the Community Days didn’t bring new shinies to the game. Gastly, Magikarp, Electabuzz and Magmar all have their existing shinies released, and Charmander was actually a repeat Community Day!

The first 2021 Community Days are both pre-existing shinies in Machop and Roselia. Roselia was released with higher shiny rates during a weekend event worldwide to celebrate a Safari Zone, so this is a shiny many longterm players not only have, but have in multiples.

One of the things that is the most exciting about Community Day is that it brings with it a brand new shiny release, and we aren’t seeing that lately. We suspect the addition of the new shiny is why Weedle and Porygon won their Community Day voting polls on Twitter.

Weedle was up against Squirtle (a repeat Community Day), and Gastly and Sandshrew, both of which have shinies in game. Porygon was up against Grimer and Caterpie which are already released, and Charmander which is a repeat Community Day.

Community Day used to mean new shinies, and therefore the excitement of something entirely new to hunt, and the race to be the first in your community to get that shiny. Now many players enter a Community Day already having at least one of the featured Pokémon shiny.

We know a lot of players haven’t played solidly since the game release back in 2016, but many have, and the recent announcement of Roserade has seen the player base the saltiest we’ve ever seen them. So many players have multiples shinies of Roserade, that they seen little point in partaking in this event.

There are Pokémon that could be featured for Community Day that might not be the most meta breaking, but would be hugely exciting. Starly, Spheal, Fletchling, there are so many options that could be explored.

Repeat Community Days

2020 saw the first ever repeat Community Day, with Charmander joining us for a second time, this time with a Fast move of Dragon Breath, after its original appearance with Charge move Blast Burn back in 2018.

This was an incredibly controversial move. A shiny we already have is one thing, but a repeat Community Day was another. Charmander might be a fan favourite, but a second Community Day to add a PVP move seemed excessive. Charmander did come second in a voting poll, so plenty of players did want this Community Day, but for people playing since 2016, this just didn’t fit the bill.

Squirtle was also offered up for a repeat Community Day in the voting polls, but lost so wasn’t featured. With these Pokémon having had their shinies released for several years, and having had their own Community Day already, the moves could easily have just been added via another limited time event, or even just added outrightly.

We hope that 2021 doesn’t bring with it a repeat Community Day, and instead focuses on new content for everyone, rather than just newer players who missed out the first time round.

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The Lack of Rare Pokémon

The original pattern for Community Days was a starter Pokémon, followed by a 10km egg hatch rare Pokémon. We saw Larvitar, Dratini, Beldum and more, all of which were hugely hyped as a way to not only get rare shinies with cool movesets, but also for many to add these evolutions to your Pokédex.

This pattern wasn’t sustainable long term, we were quickly running out of starter Pokémon and 10km egg hatches, but the pattern didn’t just adjust, it broke. We stopped seeing rare Pokémon entirely, with the last 10km hatch Community Day being Trapinch back in 2019. People at least hoped that Axew, Litwick and Gible might get their own Community Days, but no such luck so far.

Since Trapinch, the egg pool has changed drastically, and the 10km egg Pokémon are a whole new group. But we haven’t seen any of them in a Community Day, and it doesn’t look like we are going to any time soon either. Traditionally Community Days included Pokémon that evolved twice, which excludes a lot of Pokémon, but recent Community Days have featured second stage evolutions, with their baby forms as egg exclusives. So why can’t we have rare Pokémon that only evolve once, like Golett or Archen or Tirtouga?

Many of the anticipated Community Days have already had their shinies released, like Gible and Deino, but they are so rare, that people might not actually mind seeing these existing shiny Pokémon featured in a Community Day, if they included a decent exclusive move too.

There are plenty of other three stage evolution Pokémon that could be featured that could be really exciting. Imagine a Galarian Zigzagoon Community Day? Such an excellent shiny! Or Sandile, because how many are still desperately trying to hatch that from a 12km egg?

They could even do something totally different and feature rare Pokémon that don’t evolve, but include several with a new move. A regional themed day with Gen II regional Pokémon shinies becoming available would be hugely exciting. A cute themed day with Emolga, Audino and Miltank all being featured together. There are so many options that aren’t being explored.

We do hope to one day see the Starter Pokémon return to Community Day, as despite Snivy having their shiny released, Frenzy Plant would be a welcome addition to their moveset. Starter Pokémon Community Days have always been so popular, even if they aren’t meta relevant, because Starter Pokémon are special and mean a lot to the trainers who chose them in the main series games.

Changes to Bonuses

One of the other big gripes with Community Day is the changes to the bonuses. While incense still lasts three hours, Buddy Pokémon no longer bring any balls, so if you are under a lockdown or stay at home order, there is no way for you to get balls once you’ve opened your gifts for the day without buying them.

Stockpiling before Community Day is tricky when you can’t go out, and with people literally being fined for playing Pokémon GO outside in some parts of the world (both UK and Spain have had this happen!), the argument that it is exercise just doesn’t cut it under strict lockdowns.

Several of the recent Community Days have also involved a focus on eggs and hatching, which again, is not a great bonus or focus when the world is in the middle of a pandemic. Community Days are a great chance to get a shiny baby, but not when you can’t grind the event, or potentially even leave your home.

With the announcement of Roselia, this is the third Community Day we have had in recent months with a baby featured in eggs. This seems like a poorly thought out choice when so much of the world is struggling right now.

Message from Niantic

With the announcement of Roselia Community Day, Niantic featured a special message in their blog post, that was then swiftly removed not long after it went live. It read as follows:

‘Community Note: Trainers, we have heard your feedback when it comes to which Pokémon appear during Community Day. Stay tuned for announcements about which Pokémon you can expect to be featured during upcoming Community Days.’

Removing this is definitely an interesting choice. We are 100% for giving constructive criticisms (key word being constructive), when things aren’t going well in Pokémon GO, and right now, Community Day is not going well. Like, at all.

The community are rightly confused and frustrated, and we hope that despite deleting this ask for critiques, Niantic listen to the constructive feedback they are given about this event, and reflect on it before making a decision about March.

What Pokémon would you like to see featured in 2021, and how do you feel about the choices made in 2020 and so far this year? Let us know in the comments!

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