Reinvigorating the Gym system in Pokémon GO

Raids

The Gym system in Pokémon GO is stagnant. With lackluster rewards and a monotonous battle mechanic, the gym system has become stale since the first Gym system rework in the summer of 2017. A system where a Golden-Razz Berry is considered the best gym defender needs change. And while there are many merits to the current system, the current Gym gameplay calls for another rework.

With new features  and game mechanics that have been introduced over the past couple years, we believe the combining of past and present mechanics, along with some new features, can unlock enormous potential that would make the current Gym gameplay a much better experience. Be warned, the following suggested changes are opinionated.

Current state of Gyms

Before the summer of 2017, Gyms were a pivotal game mechanic. The absence of Raid Battles, Trading, PvP, Field Research, made “gyming” imperative to fully enjoy the game. With the possibility of receiving up to 100 Pokécoins and a whopping 5000 Stardust every 21 hours, made the trouble of taking down Level 10 fully stacked Dragonite and Blissey towers worth it. The biggest demerit of the old system was the lack of a restriction on a single species. This made taking down a fully stacked gym with 10 Blissey or Snorlax extremely cumbersome, time-consuming, and also prevented newer players from getting a foothold into the Gym system, favoring only hardcore players and spoofers. Furthermore, it felt counter-intuitive for trainers to battle against, and “prestige” their own team members just for a spot in the gym. A much needed change was required.

A level 10 fully stacked Gym pre-summer 2017. (Credit r/TSR)

Fast-forward to today, Gyms are much more accessible to newer players. The species restriction prevents fully stacked Blissey gyms. Players have the freedom to flex their shinies. Feeding berries to defenders allows trainers to obtain minuscule stardust and a chance to earn candies. Leveling up a gym badge to Gold is beneficial as trainers can receive up to 35 items if they spin a Gold gym on their 7 day streak. And while it offers a far lesser challenge, the overall consensus is that the Gym system needs a breath of fresh air. The monotony of effortlessly battling a Pokémon 3 times regardless of CP coupled with the mandatory defending for 8 hours to earn 50 coins has made the Gym meta stale.

And while every community has that one guy who on the daily goes around flipping every Gym in town, most trainers are looking for a slightly harder challenge that combines elements of the old gym system and the new.

Suggested Changes

Here are some ideas that would breathe new life into the Gym gameplay, making it more challenging while preventing newer trainers to feel alienated:

Increase the limit of the number of Pokémon from 6 to 10

Pokémon GO as a game isn’t slowing down. New players are joining every day, and while new Gyms pop up every now and then, increasing the number of Pokémon allowed to defend a gym from 6 to 10 will give more players a chance to earn their daily Pokécoins, especially in densely populated areas.

Remove the CP decay system and reduce the number of mandatory battling rounds from 3 to 2

Removing the CP decay system will provide a more challenging experience for trainers battling gyms. Reducing the number of rounds from 3 to 2 supplements this challenge as now the total number of battles to take down a fully stacked gym, without going overboard, will increase from 18 to 20. After the first round, we suggest the Pokémon’s CP to be reduced by half. If you are a trainer who has invested precious candies and stardust to fully max out a specific Pokémon, your defending Pokémon will now fight at its maximum potential (at least for the first round) regardless of when you placed it into the gym.

Increase the daily reward from 50 to 75 coins

It currently takes 10 days of diligent defending (roughly 8 hours per day. We recommend keeping the current 1 coins per 10 minutes system) to earn enough coins to be able to purchase a “Great” level sale box from the shop. If the reward were to be increased to 75 coins, trainers would be bale to purchase a Great box within 7 days of defending. Similarly, it would only take 21 days, or 3 weeks of defending to be able to purchase an Ultra box as opposed to the current 30 days. We feel that with a slight increase in difficulty, the increase in reward is justified.

Introduce a Story/Campaign/Quest mode to Gym Battles

Introducing a story or campaign mode would get a lot of people excited. If spinning a Pokéstop can trigger a Team GO Rocket encounter/battle, we see no reason why spinning a Gym disc, can’t trigger an encounter with “GO” Gym leaders from the main series games.
We therefore suggest introducing a quest/story line that involves obtaining the gym badges from the main series games by defeating Gym Leaders in trainer battles. The way to balance this system would involve unlocking Gym Leader tiers based on what level badge a trainer has unlocked at a particular gym.
For example: At a Bronze level gym, a trainer would unlock the capability to battle Brock and Misty. At Silver, Lt. Surge, Erika, Sabrina, and Koga. At Gold Level, Blaine and Giovanni.
Rewards for defeating Gym Leaders could include TMs (just like in the main series games), as well as, either Stardust or Rare Candy.
This would continue to incentivize trainers to keep leveling up Gym badges to Gold, as well as provide for entertaining story-driven content. And once all the Gym Leaders of a particular region have been defeated by a trainer, they would unlock the chance to battle the Elite 4 and Champion. These achievements would be reflected by new trainer badges on the profile card. Obviously, this is a bare-bones idea, but if done right, would be a thrilling addition to Pokémon GO.

Concept art by u/Arthischoki

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Gym gameplay in Pokémon GO has massive potential waiting to be unlocked, that can make it much more enjoyable for veteran and newer trainers alike. The aforementioned suggested changes, we believe, will incentivize people to bother with gyms more than ever before. Are you happy with the state of Gyms currently? What changes would you like to see?

Level 40 Pokemon GO Trainer representing Team Instinct! My current goals in the game are to help and assist newer trainers, and to grow and garner a strong local community in my town. University Student pursuing a Masters in Environmental Policy and Planning with a focus in Renewable Energy.