This Is Where Pokémon GO Fest 2021 Went Wrong

Now that Pokémon GO Fest 2021 is over, let's look back at the event with an eye toward the future. After the event, Niantic took to their Twitter account to thank the Pokémon GO community, saying "See you next year." With changes coming to the game that are expected to adjust gameplay back to its pre-pandemic state in some ways, we can only theorize on what next year's GO Fest will look like. Let's see what went wrong for GO Fest 2021 that should be avoided over to GO Fest 2022.

Pokémon GO Fest 2021 Promo image. Credit: Niantic
Pokémon GO Fest 2021 Promo image. Credit: Niantic
  • Stinginess: Niantic has a bit of a problem with giving its players content and getting them used to it, only to later pull back on the content. We saw it with the pandemic bonuses. While I personally think many of the upcoming pullbacks are fine, reverting Pokéstop distance and nerfing Incense seems egregious because they aren't really costing Niantic anything or changing the game in a major way. They simply created a quality-of-life update that allowed players to customize their gameplay. So rather than enrich Pokémon GO by giving players reasons to go outside with new content, we're seeing Niantic make the game harder to play on purpose. We saw this pattern continue in GO Fest 2021. Players have been used to an increased Shiny rate at GO Fest. It's simply the truth. Niantic, though, announced that Saturday would have an increased Shiny rate, while Sunday wouldn't. One might argue this was to focus on raids… but why? Why pull back on content rather than adding to it? This sort of "To give, we must take away" idea that is embedded in Niantic's content strategy should be done away with.
  • Not appealing to all forms of players: This continues from the above. GO Fest 2020's second day was great because it gave players options. It was a Team GO Rocket-themed day, but other content hadn't been nerfed. While GO Fest 2021 was overall an awesome event, its second day assumed that all players would want to be doing the same thing. They cut the boosted Shiny rate and focused on Legendary raids. It's not hard to understand why some longtime players who have seen these Legendaries countless times were unimpressed. GO Fest 2022 will be an incredible event if it goes back to appealing to all kinds of players, giving Pokémon GO trainers multiple different opportunities to focus on varied content.
  • Leaving little to the imagination: This is a very minor complaint, but GO Fest 2020 was full of surprises. The content for GO Fest 2021, outside of an uncatchable Hoopa, was fully announced in the first few blogs. While it's important for Niantic to tell us what to expect with paid events, a few extra surprises here and there are nice for these ticked experiences.

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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