For those who might not play Pokemon Go, our own coverage of the Mega Evolution release day probably was a small hint that the feature’s release was less than well-received once people discovered the actual mechanics of the new evolution, and now, Niantic has admitted it needs player feedback to solve the problem.
So here’s why everyone’s upset: Unlike most evolutions, Mega Evolutions in POGO and the main series are temporary, and as such, they need to be tackled differently. The pokemon often gets a large boost in its stats, and in POGO it also gives bonuses to fellow raid members. The adaptation itself isn’t half bad; it’s the method that players have issues with, which can be boiled down into a “fun tax” and artificial scarcity.
What we mean by “fun tax” is that while there is a discount for future evolutions, it’s costly, and not just in terms of the new resource, Mega Energy. In a perfect world where there’s no COVID and people can easily raid in large groups and win fast enough for maximum rewards, it takes four days or $4 US to unlock most of the current Mega evolutions’ discount cost of another one day or $1 for each future evolution.
Not only that, but chasing after Mega raids means that players are trading their chances to do legendary raids in order to do this, both in terms of raid passes and the ability to get enough people together to actually successfully do the raid. Since Mega Evolution discounts apply only to the specific pokemon (not the entire species, like in the main series games), Mega Evolutions kind of feel like having to do a traditional MMO raid to get a temporary specific weapon buff in order to make an equally difficult raid somewhat easier. Compared to the main series’ emphasis on “friendship” being needed for Megas and paying for permanent items to unlock the ability (which lasts for an entire battle), Niantic’s version feels like… well, poke-prostitution.
The fun tax isn’t the only issue, though. While there may only be five Mega Evolution forms out, there are 46 total Mega Forms in the series to date. That means not all Mega Evolutions are potentially available at the same time, especially any that are region-locked, such as Kangaskan only being available to Australians. We’ve actually already seen this at release, as only the Kanta start pokemon have Mega Raids.
While players can do a special one-time questline for Mega Beedrill (which has little meta-relevance), there are no Mega Beedrill raids, making it currently impossible to earn more Mega Beedrill Energy. For players who struggle to get a single legendary pokemon in a month-long cycle, completing four (or realistically, more) equally difficult raids may be impossible. And that’s assuming there’s only one Mega available to raid at a time. Currently, there’s three pokemon to gain energy for, but one has two forms. Again, each pokemon species needs its own candy, each specific form needs to be unlocked once to get a discount on future evolutions, and that’s for each specific pokemon.
- The first Mega Evolution takes a large amount of energy
- The time limit to Mega Evolution does not feel worth the resources used to collect the Mega Energy required
- You’d like other ways to gain Mega Energy
- The feature feels that you have to pay to Mega Evolve your Pokémon.
Niantic does have a September event rolling out, but it doesn’t actually fix the problems another self-described game designer has complained about. In fact, it probably exacerbates it.
The September 1, 2020, to Monday, September 7, 2020 asks players to do more Mega Raids, and completing 2 million globally unlocks Mega Pidgeot, which not only asks players to spend more money, but to add another Mega-form that potentially dilutes the current raid-pool and increases the difficulty for people who might actually want to get energy from raiding. Update: The event is live. There is a single, random quest that awards 5 mega energy for Venusaur, Charizard, or Blastoise- the player can’t choose. The quest is quite rare thus far and Mega Evolution requirements remain the same.
The Friday, September 11, 2020, to Thursday, September 17, 2020, Niantic asks players to do Mega-Evolution Battles (gym battles, Team GO Rocket battles, and
Trainer Battles, not League battles, but they may happen in the future) for non-raids, with 2.75mill battles unlocking Mega Houndour. This essentially asks you to use that limited resource you’ve been stockpiling and that may rotate out, reinforcing the fears players have already vocalized. Plus, you know, also creating the same problems Mega Pidgeot creates.
Finally, Tuesday, September 22, 2020, to Monday, September 28, 2020, is supposed to be a Mega-buddy event. You just… have the Mega as your buddy, which lasts 12 hours instead of the usual 4. This is just as problematic as the previous event, except players will already have less of a stockpile and have nothing to unlock.
So yeah, give Niantic a piece of your mind, but maybe watch your wallet too.