Mr Rime and Lapras chilling in the snow
Mr Rime and Lapras chilling in the snow

Over the last few weeks Pokémon GO has announced a variety of new events, including the Kanto Tour, Secrets of the Jungle, and Chill Tunes. As well as these events, we’ve also had Community Day announcements that come along with timed paid research quest lines for December, January, and February.

Most of these events have something in common, and it is that they have paid for aspects of these events. For the Kanto Tour, shiny Mew is only available to ticket holders. For Chill Tunes Galarian Mr. Mime is locked behind the pay wall. Paid for ticketed events are becoming more and more common in Pokémon GO and the community has a lot of thoughts on it.

I’ve already written about our feelings on the Kanto Tour as a paid for event, and you can read that here. Today we’re looked at paid for events in general and the issues that are arising with them.

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The Regularity of Paid for Events

In 2020 almost every Community Day has had a ticketed research quest line, usually available for US$1 or your countries equivalent. Prices are also affected by taxes and other fees, so do vary. We’ve also had the stay at home GO Fest, (which also resulted in a make up event due to errors), as well as a variety of new features that while technically ‘free to play’, can be very difficult for trainers to participate in properly without paying. These include Remote Raids, Mega Raids, and 12km strange eggs.

This means we’ve had a US$1 paid for event each month, plus GO Fest 2020, and in the last two weeks, announcements for two more paid events, as well as confirmation that Community Days will continue to have a paid for special research quest line. The cycle of paid for events seems to be increasing as 2020 comes to a close. In 2019 we had the Regigigas ‘A Colossal Discovery‘ event, and the in person GO Fest and Safari Zones. Now we have two paid for events announced in a week, and if the name of the Kanto event, Pokémon GO Tour: Kanto is anything to go by, we could potentially see the tour continue into other regions that could also include paid for events.

Pokémon GO Tour: Kanto

Most people would argue that the Community Day paid for quest lines aren’t a big deal, at only US$1 (or your countries equivalent) they are relatively cheap to play, and as they don’t contain exclusive content, you don’t miss out by not partaking in them. They are only a way to gain access to more items, or to get the chance for a good IV Pokémon that is potentially shiny. There isn’t much FOMO with the Community Day tickets, and they don’t lock out free to play players.

With the announcements over the last two weeks or so that we have two exclusive paid for ticketed events with Pokémon locked behind those events, shiny Mew, and Galarian Mr. Mime, these much more expensive events become less optional for those of us who are completionists or living dex shiny hunters, and the fear of missing out is very real. What if there isn’t another chance to get a shiny Mew in the future? What if Galarian Mr. Mime is region locked or not released again until this time next year? We don’t currently know if these Pokémon will be released in other ways or not, so the only option to have access to them right now, is to pay.


Costs Varying Country to Country

One of the biggest issues with these events is the cost. While US$7.99 or US$14.99 might not seem a huge expense, in other countries, their equivalent is dramatically higher. South America has been particularly badly affected by these equivalents. For example, the Kanto Tour event ticket costs R$75. The monthly minimum wage in Brazil is R$1039. This means that this event costs over 7% of the minimum wage earnings for a whole month!

If you consider the normal working week to be 5 days a week, approximately 20 days in a month, in Brazil this ticket takes 1.5 days to earn, whereas in the US or UK, it takes 2 hours or less to earn. This is a huge disparity that really needs to be addressed. Players are being locked out of these events because of the exchange rate. The equivalent cost in Brazil should be more equivalent to 2 hours wages, and instead it is more like a day and a half’s wages.

Special Research Event Ticket
Special Research Event Ticket

It is unfair that players in other countries are charged such a huge amount because of the exchange rate and their location. They are being locked out of accessing exclusive Pokémon and events because of dramatic pricing differences. I don’t know if this is something Niantic have much control over because it involves app store pricing, but it is something that needs to be addressed and considered when pricing events, or choosing to even charge for an event.

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Does the ticket really give exclusive Pokémon?

One of the big questions people have, is if these exclusive Pokémon will be released afterwards for free or not. We don’t know if shiny Mew will be available in another way in the future, or if Galarian Mr. Mime will suddenly pop up in 7km eggs after this event, so are those who are choosing to pay really getting anything exclusive?

After the ‘Colossal Discovery’ event, Regigigas was added into EX-raids, meaning players had paid to access Regigigas early, and the only exclusive part of the ticket was the various items, a pose for your avatar, a medal, and raid passes to challenge the Regi Trio. Regigigas itself was not exclusive and was available to everyone afterwards.

Mr Mime and Mr Rime coming to Pokémon GO

Could we see this happen with Galarian Mr. Mime? Are we just paying for early access to this Pokémon? The event spawns are available without the ticket, the incense bonus is available without the ticket, the exclusive aspects are the Mr. Mime inspired pose, medal, items rewarded from the research, and access to Galarian Mr. Mime, and the candy to evolve to Mr. Rime.

If Galarian Mr. Mime is put into 7km eggs afterwards, ticket holders are paying for premium items, a pose, and a medal. So why not wait to get Mime instead? We don’t know currently if this will happen, so the risk is not buying a ticket and missing out, or buying one and it not being exclusive after all.

The same applies to the Kanto Tour ticket, will shiny Mew be available for free in a later event? Mew was first released at GO Fest, and then later released worldwide. GO Fest ticket holders were given access to the worldwide research quest line, but not a second Mew, instead being given Mew candy as their final reward. Could this happen again? More clarity from Pokémon GO would help people decide whether or not they needed to buy these tickets or simply be patient and wait for their eventual release for free.


Conclusion

We completely appreciate that Pokémon GO is ultimately a business that needs to make money in order to continue to improve and grow as an app. 2020 has been Pokémon GOs most successful year ever, surpassing over $1 billion dollars in earnings. We want Pokémon GO to continue to be hugely successful because it can only mean good things for the app, and therefore for us, the trainers.

They have done something incredible things during 2020 to keep Pokémon GO playable during the pandemic, when it could have been a disastrous year not only for Niantic as a company, but for us as a player base. We are hugely thankful for these changes and their dedication to keeping the game playable from home, but they have also made missteps.

Many of the events this year have been focused on eggs, which can mean spending money on incubators, or on raids, which this year has meant spending on remote raid passes which are much more expensive than premium raid passes. There has been a lot of pressure this year to spend money on in game items, when many people are already suffering financially because of the global pandemic situation.

The announcement of several paid for events, relatively close together, and for the Chill Tunes event at short notice, is a lot to take in. With very little notice, at what is already an expensive time of year, Chill Tunes may see a lot of people opting out who would usually pay for a ticketed event. Is Galarian Mr. Mime enough of a draw for US$7.99? We aren’t sure.

With a paid for event in December, and another in February, as well as two Community Days inbetween that we know have paid for aspects, 2021 looks set to potentially be an expensive year to be a Pokémon GO player. We would love to see more transparency about the exclusive aspects of these events, so players can properly judge if they are worth spending their money on, as well as a reassessment of ticket prices for those outside of the USA.

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