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why has Niantic not done any Legendary live events yet?

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Written by Kamil Arli

Forbes Columnist Paul Tassi published an article on the ‘Pokémon GO’ that must wow figure out Legendary Spawn Events

 I think Niantic did things in the wrong order. With the introduction of Gen 2 into Pokémon GO, which dropped ~85 new Pokémon into the game, they skipped over the Legendary Pokémon from Gen 1 that never arrived. Now, in addition to Zapdos, Moltres, Articuno, Mewtwo and Mew not appearing in the game, they also have Gen 2 Legendaries to deal with, Lugia, Ho-Oh, Raikou, Entei, Suicune and Celebi. It’s uh, quite a backlog at this point.

I GET WHY GEN 2 MAY HAVE BEEN A LITTLE EASIER TO IMPLEMENT

I get why Gen 2 may have been a little easier to implement. I mean, doing all the animation work for 85 Pokémon wasn’t, but at least conceptually all they had to do was throw them in the game and have players catch them like they’ve caught the other 140 so far. Nothing changed mechanically except a few minor alternations to capture mechanics.

Legendaries are a different story, and Niantic has recently indicated that Legendaries will show up this year (I mean, they almost have to) and in the same breath, that the developer wants to hold larger scaled, thousands-of-people live Pokémon GO events. These two things aren’t necessarily tied together, but ever since the first trailer which showed a crowd of people all banding together to try to capture Mewtwo in Times Square, it’s clearly on their mind.

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SO WHY HAS NIANTIC NOT DONE ANY LEGENDARY LIVE EVENTS YET?

So why has Niantic not done any Legendary live events yet? Because they would be really damn hard to organize, and I have to wonder if they’re coming around to the same conclusion I have, that honestly they’re probably not that good of an idea.

A hack that puts Legendary skins on existing Pokemon. These three aren't in the game yet

Niantic/YouTube

A hack that puts Legendary skins on existing Pokemon. These three aren’t in the game yet

Here’s the problem with “live” Legendary events, and why ultimately they may not be the way forward here:

1) While in theory it sounds cool to throw Pokémon GO events in specific world landmarks for legendary spawns, that’s potentially a very, very exclusionary practice. Yes, some people may be willing to make a drive to whatever famous thing is near them, but this would once again almost certainly be skewed toward city players, and leave those who are far away from X location in the dust.

2) Being that Pokémon GO is a global game with tens, hundreds of millions of potential players, the sheer magnitude of trying to organize dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of Legendary spawn events around the world is daunting. And if they don’t do that, and there are only a few spawn events globally, then it becomes even more exclusionary if they’re asking say, all of America to trek to four or five locations, or everyone in France to go the Eiffel Tower or something. Fans would be outraged.

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3) Official, Niantic-led live events have a host of potential legal complications attached to them, which is something the company has looked to avoid at every turn. This is not an unofficial meet-up of a bunch of people standing around with phones, this would be a designated event where people have to go to a location to catch a spawn. Does Niantic have to get permits for each and every location as a result? Are they liable for any damage or injury that occurs in any of these events, which may involve stampedes to get to a wild Legendary spawn? Is putting a virtual creature in augmented reality in a specific location enough to potentially get them in trouble if things go wrong? That’s a very futuristic question, but one Niantic may not like the answer to.

The original Pokemon GO trailer

Niantic

The original ‘Pokémon GO’ trailer

For all these reasons, I just don’t know if live events are the proper way to distribute Legendary Pokémon. I’m not saying that Niantic should not throw live events in some capacity, but tying them to Legendaries, chasing after that Times Square Mewtwo idea fundamentally does not seem like a good idea. Not at all.

I have said this before and I’ll say it again, the best way to release Legendaries in my estimate is to make some sort of personalized quest for each player. For Zapdos, catch ten electric types, station five electric types in gyms, walk to hatch a 25 KM egg, fight a powerful ??? CP Zapdos who appears afterward with your six strongest Pokémon, then play an enchanced catching minigame to get him in a weakened state.

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You could tweak that for the other spawns, but some kind of personal quest seems like the right call to me here, rather than herding thousands of people into select areas and having them spawn that way. I know Pokémon GO is desperate to be a “social” game, but I don’t think Legendary spawns should be tied to live events if they’re going to be exclusionary and potentially legally or physically dangerous by nature. There have to be other solutions on the table. Speaking as someone who lives in a major city, I could probably easily go to a live event at one of Chicago’s many landmarks so this doesn’t affect me personally, but again, for the overall health of the game, I don’t think that’s the right call.

This is, of course, only the first of many issues that come with the introduction of Legendary Pokémon to the game, like what happens to the gym scene when gyms are only populated by the same 3-4 powerful Legendaries? Or if they’re banned from gyms, what’s the point in owning them at all? But that’s a question for another day, I suppose. The first hurdle is getting them into people’s Pokédexes in the first place.

I hope Niantic has more to share on this soon, but my hunch is that we won’t see any Legendary events until closer to summer, and that they will still be chasing this live meet-up dream.

About the author

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Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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