Pokémon GO Mega Raid Week Review: Fun Or Pay-To-Play?

Mega Raid Week, Pokémon GO's first September 2020 event, ends tonight. It focused on the obvious: Mega Raids, which have kicked up quite a bit of controversy upon their release even before the event started. Now, as the event wraps up, did Niantic's tweaks to this event and the Mega system suffice, or did they deserve the continued backlash?

Pokémon GO Mega Raid Week Review: Fun or Pay-to-Play? Credit: Niantic
Pokémon GO Mega Raid Week Review: Fun or Pay-to-Play? Credit: Niantic

Spawns

First up, Mega Raid Week was odd in that it featured no new Shiny release. Instead, Niantic's announcement focused on Lotad, a spawn that is usually only our during rainy weather. This event gave trainers a fair crack at this Pokémon, which had been previously featured in a Research Day in early 2019, making this Lotad-focused week likely more fun for newer players. The spawn pool, in general, was good, highlighting rare spawns such as Cranidos and Aerodactyl, the latter of which has a boosted Shiny rate. Featured spawns such as Beldum and Larvitar would have been nice to see increased, but even with their rarity, the event spawns were enjoyable.

Mega Raids

The week's focus was squarely on the Mega Raid system, which had problems attached to it before the event even began. The Pokémon GO player base took to social media with complaints about Mega Evolution before the event, leading Niantic to make changes to the mechanic ahead of schedule. These changes were good but did little to appear players that felt the feature was prioritizing pay-to-play trainers rather than those who play for free. The changes, though, drastically increased the amount of Mega Energy given from every Mega Raid, and Niantic has made a promise of more changes to come. The critique of Niantic was fair, but the changes made have also been fair. The Mega Raids are maligned by a portion of the fanbase, yes, but they're also fun and offer a chance at Shiny Blastoise, Charizard, and Venusaur. With the improvements Niantic has both promised and already made, the controversy will likely die down.

The variety in the Mega Raid choices was also strong, but one area where Niantic faltered was communication over the release of Mega Pidgeot. Trainers were tasked with completing two million Mega Raids to unlock Mega Pidgeot, but there was no way to track this, no follow-up from Niantic on social media, and no announcement if this would happen during the event like GO Fest challenges or after it. It made a challenge that could have been fun into a confusing aspect of the event.

Mega Raid Week Tasks

The weakest feature of the event was the Pokéstop tasks. They were said to offer Mega Energy, but many players reported few or none of those tasks acquired after spinning hundreds of stops. A greater variety in tasks, and a more equal chance to get these Mega Energy stops, would have improved Mega Raid Week.

Overall, Mega Raid Week was an okay Pokémon GO event. The lack of a Shiny release, lack of clarity over Mega Pidgeot, and the rarity of desired tasks put a damper on the event, but hunting Shiny Lotad and Aerodactyl was still a fun change of pace. Looking ahead, though, the next two September events seem like they'll be more exciting for players.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.