Pokémon GO Charmander Community Day 2020 Review

Today was Charmander Community Day in Pokémon GO, which marks the first time that a Pokémon has ever gotten a second dedicated Community Day. Was this event fun for all, or did it turn off longtime players in favor of drawing in newer trainers? Let's break down what worked and didn't with Charmander Community Day 2020.

Charmander Community Day promotional image in Pokémon GO. Credit: Niantic
Charmander Community Day promotional image in Pokémon GO. Credit: Niantic

The good:

  • Triple Stardust: It's the best bonus in the game and Pokémon GO players were able to capitalize on it because of the hyper-active Incense. Niantic could have taken that away or decreased its effectivity as they have with the Incense outside of the event, but they didn't. Trainers could earn hundreds of thousands of Stardust even with a passive playing style, a Star Piece, and a lot of Pokéballs.
  • Nostalgia: It was nice to see Charmander. This Community Day harkened back to the old days of Pokémon GO, which was good fun.
  • Mega Energy: The availability of Mega Charizard Energy through paid Research, free Timed Research, and Field Research at Pokéstops was generous to say the least, awarding what was only previously available in Mega Raids and rare tasks through easy-to-complete research.
  • Research: Pokémon GO began giving out free Timed Research in addition to their paid Special Research with last month's Porygon Community Day. That continued with Charmander Community Day and, while it's just one page, it's a thoughtful addition.

The bad:

  • Voting: It wouldn't be bad if Charmander Community Day 2020 was the only one of its kind that alienated long-term players by offering a Shiny Pokémon that most trainers, with the exception of newer players, already have by now. This year saw the first time that a Community Day featured a previously released Shiny Pokémon three times over with Gastly, Magikarp, and now Charmander. Charmander won second place in the vote after Porygon because of its iconic status, but Niantic's options of Grimer and Caterpie gave players only one Pokémon that hadn't been released in its Shiny form… which, of course, won. The options in the vote need to be more balanced because while it's nice to see Charmander, this left many longtime players feeling like they aren't being catered to in Pokémon GO. It's not that it wasn't nice to see Charmander, but it's easy to see how this could set a bad precedent for Niantic's future choices.
  • Other options: On days like this, where certain players may not have much to do, it would be nice to see Niantic expand the game with other Charmander-related activities. Seeing Clone Charizard and previous costumed Charmanders in raids, for example, would have personally kept me busy on those all day.

Overall, was October's Community Day fun. Yes, it was. They have all been fun. Does that mean that Niantic should repeat more Community Days in Pokémon GO? Should there be repeats of the Pikachu, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle Community Days? No.

Charmander is a special case because of the unique desirability of the black Shiny Charizard and the fact that it gets two Mega Evolutions. Pokémon GO's December Recap Community Day is an established mechanic to revisit species like this and, outside of that, Niantic should push on with species that have never had their own day. As new mechanics such as GO Battle League and Remote Raiding change the way Pokémon GO is played, Niantic remains dedicated to making Pokémon GO a community-building game that encourages players to be physically active. Community Day still draws out more players, from hardcore trainers to casual catchers, than any other event. In order to keep Community Day's popularity growing amongst trainers, Niantic needs course correction to turn this monthly event into something that all can anticipate again: new and longtime players.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.