Pokemon GO PvP
Pokemon GO PvP

First of all, let’s just say it out loud, from pretty much the whole PvP playing community.: THANK YOU FOR LISTENING NIANTIC. For those that aren’t following along: Niantic introduced a new switch mechanic in Pokémon GO PvP that was not only very laggy, but was also slow. It was stated it would “briefly pause the battle”, but that didn’t fall in line with the fast-paced battles they wanted in Pokémon GO PvP (“Battles are fast-paced and real-time, so don’t expect to wait your turn!” – Trainer Battles update)

The Community was fast up on their feet about the previous mechanic being better, and Niantic listened.

“We strive to make Trainer Battles intuitive and strategic, and we do not feel this change has met that bar. While the original implementation had unintended behavior, we’ve been impressed at the depth of gameplay created by real-time switching against incoming attacks.” – Niantic said in their Community Note, also adding “We appreciate the community’s passion and dedication to Trainer Battles. We will continue to keep your feedback in mind for future releases.”

And that’s exactly what the PvP playing community is: passionate and dedicated. Most of the community were thanking Niantic for listening and for giving us the old switching mechanic back.

All of that could have happened a little bit differently; Other multiplayer online games usually talk about their future plans, they don’t just implement them. Why doesn’t Niantic talk to their passionate and dedicated community before changing something that big in the game? Maybe a little bit of insight on what is being planned, or talking to some PvP players that play it a lot every day would really help make it even better. Who knows, one day, it might even become an eSport?

*Keep in mind that in the meantime, since interviews have taken place, The Pokemon Company announced there will be a Pokémon GO Invitational Tournament at the 2019 Pokémon World Championships.

From this point forward you can read about:

Competitive PvP

Currently, if you want to play any competitive Pokémon GO PvP, it has to go through the Silph Arena and their Cups and Tournaments. This means you’ll probably be playing in the Great League. Another option is to organize everything by yourself as a community and do tournaments that way with your own rules, but we can all agree that the Great League offers the most versatility and different Pokémon.

I talked to some Pokémon GO PvP battlers and content creators to help me figure out what the community wants from PvP, as well as to talk about changes we all would like to see coming to Pokémon GO PvP to help it going forward.

Talking with them gave me some great ideas for PvP that I’m ready to share with you. While talking about changes Niantic could make, we all had in mind that Niantic is a company that wants to make money, besides just pleasing the players.

Switching Mechanic

As Niantic changed the Switch mechanic and then reverted it back, I asked all of them what they think about it and whether it even has to be changed.

Everyone of them likes the current Switch mechanic, but all can admit it has its flaws. Everyone used the term “real-time” when talking about the switch mechanic, as that’s what Pokémon GO PvP intends to be – “real-time and fast-paced“. That kind of switching requires “quick decision making and reaction times” and separates good players from great ones, which you have to have in order to keep the game competitive.

Most of them mentioned the switch glitch, or when you can’t switch because you are in the middle of the attack. That brings a lot of frustration to players, but Kieng thinks that “If the switch was buffered (once the fast move is executed, it will do the switch next) then it would cause less frustration.

I gave the idea that you should maybe forget the Switch window and just put the rest of the Pokémon on the screen. That way you can always know what Pokémon you have in the back, what their health is (thanks ValorAsh for that idea) and you can always put them in battle (if the switch timer allows you) with just one tap.
Everyone agrees that this has it’s positives, but first, switch bugs need to be fixed.

Switch mechanic idea for the future

What do you think about this idea and how would you like to see it change if at all?

Charged TMs

This is the most sensitive topic as it probably brings Niantic the most money, and as Kieng said “Niantic is a business and needs to make money to keep operating“, we need to approach this really carefully.

Why do we need more Charged TMs in the first place? Right now if you Raid once per day at a Level 5 Raid, Battle 3 times against another Trainer and Train once per day against Team Leaders – you would get an average of around 4 – 5 Charged TMs per month (calculated from the Silph Road research about TM drops in Battles and Raids). That’s hardly enough to get the right second Charge Move on Hypno.

Future idea for Charge TMs where you can select what more you want to learn

While some believe that putting them in the in-game Shop would be a good idea, as you would be able to purchase them for coins, ValorAsh thinks “that would seem like more of a “pay to win” move“.

Being able to choose which move you will get when using a Charge TM would probably bring the most satisfaction to the entire player base, and it shouldn’t really hurt Niantic that much.

Kieng also had a great idea where you could “promote the social aspects of the game, for example if you completed x number of raids or gym battles together with someone you can gift each other Charged TMs“.

Legacy Moves

Legacy moves are the most talked about topic since PvP came out, and the opinions are very split. The same happened when I talked to these 4 guys. Opinions were split with both sides having great suggestions and justifications for their views.

To be clear, I’m not talking about Community Day Exclusive Moves, but only about Legacy Moves.

Before we get any deeper in to a conversation about Legacy Moves, here is what Kieng had to say about it: “It is not even about needing Legacy Moves on a Pokémon, it is the perception from players who don’t play PvP because they feel it is unfair (even if the reality is that Legacy Moves besides Community day moves provide only a small advantage sometimes). But when you see top players use a double legacy moveset to win a tournament, it does make people overvalue the use of Legacy Pokémon.

And I feel like that’s really true. When we talk about reasons why someone doesn’t play any PvP, some answers are often “because you need Legacy Moves on a Pokémon” while the reality is, you really don’t.

Future Idea about Special TM

While most of the ideas around the Pokémon GO community are based on some Special Legacy TM that would be able to get you the legacy move you want, I heard some great ideas when interviewing these great Pokémon Trainers.

KakunaMattata said he hopes “we see more frequent events where we can obtain the old moves” like Body Slam Snorlax in Special Research, Legacy Lapras and Lick Gengar in Raids. Kieng on the other hand thinks that “Pokémon that were caught during that time period should have the ability to have them in their move pool“. So if you have an old Hypno, you should be able to use a Charge TM to get Psyshock or Shadow Ball.

On the other side of the discussion we have ValorAsh that said: “You don’t need Legacy Moves on a Pokémon to PvP, and just because it’s legacy, doesn’t mean it’s good. Legacy Moves can reward the trainers who take the time to seek them out… …It allows non-pvp players to trade shinies and Raid Pokémon that I wouldn’t care about, for a sub-1500 CP Pokémon that is more valuable to myself than them.

What do you think about legacy moves? Do we need them back, and if yes, how would you bring them back?

Suggestions for the Future

While talking to these four trainers or talking with friends in my community, some ideas are always talked about. Let’s go over some of them and see how they could improve Pokémon GO PvP.

Make it Easier to Battle Someone

This is something that pretty much everyone wants, and there are two main ways of doing this. Introduce an ingame system where you are matched with someone random, or change the Ultra Friend requirement to Battle someone remotely.

Right now, let’s say you met someone at GO Fest and you want to battle them. You have to add them as friends, get to Ultra Friends in-game (which takes 30 days in best case scenario) and you have to have a way to contact them outside of the game so you can figure out when you want to battle, which League to play in, etc.

This drives a lot of people away from PvP, as it’s really hard to find someone to battle. If only there was a way to just click “Play PvP” and get a match-up with someone random and just play, that would be awesome.

If you are more competitive and you play remote tournaments, like the ones that GO Stadium organises, before you even start to battle, you have to just open and send gifts for at least 30 days. Why can’t we battle someone with who we are, let’s say, Great Friends with? Maybe even sooner?

Same thing happens when I meet someone at my local tournament or at Community Day. If I want to battle him or her, I can’t for at least one month (if I don’t meet them somewhere).

Maybe it’s not profitable for Niantic to give us a way to battle someone sooner, because we won’t need to send a lot of gifts every day. BattleHero had a great idea how Niantic “can monetize that by selling Friend list space like they do with Bag space and Pokémon Storage space.” I’m sure a lot of people would buy that so they can add more Friends and battle more Trainers in-game.

Future Idea about Ranked battles inside the game

In-Game Ranking System

If there was an in-game system that would match you up with someone random, what better way to do it than with an in-game ranking system of some kind. That way everyone could have more fun. If you are really competitive and you want to Train, you can do that with someone similar to your skill. And if you just want to battle 3 times for fun to get your rewards, you can do it with someone who probably wants the same thing.

BattleHero also had a great idea about this one: If you have a Global Leaderboard, why not reward the best players? Give out Coins and Boxes with goodies (like the ones we can often find in the shop) to the best players daily, weekly or monthly. Even more players would be interested in PvP and regularly taking part.

BattleHero also added: “They can even include themes like the Silph Arena does. For example: for this month, only Pokémon of 4 given types are allowed. Another month, only 1 shield is given in ranked play. Something like that would really blow it up.

Proper Events Hosted by Niantic

Why not (Pokémon) GO even one step further and organize an event or Tournaments with the best Battlers from the Leaderboards. They can organize them the same way they do with Pokémon VG, Pokémon TCG and Pokkén Tournaments. They can also advertise and cast them the same way like they are doing with those tournaments. I’m sure it would make Pokémon GO even more popular.

Like we mentioned before, this already happened. First Official Pokémon GO Invitational Tournament will be held at the 2019 Pokémon World Championships on August 16th. And you’ll be able to watch all the battles in the first officially streamed Pokémon GO Trainer Battle event live at Twitch.tv/Pokemon.

We are really happy that Kieng will be one of the players playing the tournament, and we have our fingers crossed for ValorAsh to join him. You can give him your support in this Twitter post.

Videos from these other tournaments can be found on The Official Pokémon YouTube channel.

Improve Watchability of PvP (AR battles)

If Niantic wants to host great Pokémon GO PvP tournaments, they have to improve the watchability of Battles, and what better way to do it then with AR Battles. We got a glimpse of that in this Youtube video.

KakunaMattata also had something interesting to add that would be pretty helpful: “A Spectator mode. If someone could push a button to directly tune into a match and see both sides, that could potentially alleviate a big technical burden for setting up and broadcasting tournaments.”

Other Ideas

Apart from these main ideas, almost everyone of the 4 Trainers I talked with added a few more ideas that would come in pretty handy.

ValorAsh loves the addition of new moves and would love to see even more of them: “they should continue to widen each Pokémon’s movepool, allowing trainers to diversify and customize their team to their liking.”

What do you thinks about all these ideas? Do you have some of your own ideas about what to change in Pokémon GO PvP, which you are willing to share?

A big THANK YOU! to ValorAsh, Kieng, KakunaMattata and BattleHero for doing an interview with me and helping me make this article happen.