Massively on the Go: Pokemon Go’s Sinnoh Tour turned players into guinea pigs


Both the Pokemon GO’s Sinnoh Tour LA Tour and now the Global Tour have both ended, and while there are good points to be had for both events, overall, the Hoenn Tours were more impactful, even if they were low in value.

I’m not one to normally give praise for the sake of giving praise, especially to Niantic. However, the constantly shifting nature of event features, not just for the Sinnoh Tour but for the past two tours, makes me suspect Niantic still doesn’t know what it’s doing. For today’s Massively on the Go, we’re going acknowledge where Niantic did well and what the new Adventure Effect may hold for the future – but also where Niantic continues to hammer in the same mistakes.

Historic wins and losses

So, a very quick tl;dr for the LA Event: There were fewer bugs during the overall event, which was good, as was following through on things that worked in both the Hoenn Tour and previous tours (namely, no “catch’em all from this generation!” list in Hoenn and the CD moves from Johto and Kanto’s Tours), but we saw poor studio communication prior to the event, plus the poor design choices (looking at you, Spiritomb quest) made things quite annoying. Maybe I’m actually being optimistic, but design-wise, the final Global Sinnoh Tour may have made this region’s tour better than the last, but I don’t think it’ll immediately affect players the way Hoenn did. We’ll get to the good stuff later, though.

The biggest thing players got out of the Hoenn event was the Primals. Three type bonuses for damage even if the Pokemon is benched or fainted, plus candy generation and xp gains, is a massive bonus. And we got that for two pokemon, which also got very powerful moves, and it segued nicely into the summer 2023’s Go Fest with Mega Rayquaza. While the event itself was humdrum, Mega Rayquaza has really changed both my playstyle and raid scenes. It’s massively powerful, boosts some of the strongest types in the game, and generates extra candy for said types.

Now, while Mega Ray isn’t from the Hoenn Tour, it built on mechanics introduced from it. Primal Kyogre and Primal Groudon still do a lot of work for me. While my friends made some use of the Mega Evolution system before, Hoenn really got them to be consistent about it during events. Even the system upgrade nearly a year before hadn’t done much to kickstart it, but I think a combination of one friend getting a perfect Groudon combined with its high usefulness and my constantly showing how it and Kyogre could make it rain XL Candy pushed them to be more consistent.

Adventure Effects, as they currently stand, won’t do that. While a combination of AE effects being doubled for your chosen ‘mon plus required to complete event quests made everyone give’em a spin, ultimately few people seemed impressed. No doubt, they were used more than I thought, even by me. That being said though, especially once I got some good Origin Dialga and Palkia, I recalled how non-renewable the resources are. Outside of the double-AE bonuses, I haven’t used either one since. Still, there is some promise here (we’ll get to that shortly).

The wild legendaries also were interesting at best, but ultimately useless. The Lake Trio seem like the most hated legendaries in POGO, owing to being statistically insignificant in all parts of the game and also being legendary regionals. I won’t lie, I did get excited to catch them, but unlike the Lati-twins, they haven’t prompted me to trade at all. Routes being able to grant them was nice, especially as the shiny ones didn’t flee, but I already have my Lake-babies ready to be trash-transferred for the most part. The hype for them was next to nothing.

That was actually most of the event. Outside of Hisui ‘mon, especially shinies, the available pokemon just weren’t great. That’s not totally Niantic’s fault, as it had to make do with The Pokemon Company’s content from that generation. That being said, Niantic sleeping on Manaphy/Phione is hard to overlook. This was the first game with the Global Trade System, so at least an increase in trade radius would have been exciting. But we still didn’t get Mega Lucario or Mega Gallade.

Worse, the recent Pokemon Legends: Arceus gave Niantic a lot of potential ammo. We could have had showcases that finally used XXS pokemon instead of XXL ‘mon that have been the only variable since the release of the feature. We could have had more Hisui ‘mon, like Goomy and Zoroark, or even the ability to evolve them, like Scyther to Kleavor. The terrible Valentine Elite Raids for Enamorous could have been part of the Sinnoh event instead. Nothing I’ve mentioned is outside of puzzle pieces that are already extant in the game. Instead, what we basically got was low shiny rates and mostly depressing pokemon, especially for veterans who have seen many of these pokemon get multiple Community Day (move) releases.

This doesn’t mean the Sinnoh Tour was awful, though. Again, POGO players are so beaten down that all that’s generally expected is a competently functioning event, and Niantic was surprisingly able to mostly deliver on that, plus a bit more. There are complaints about the shiny rates, which do match my experience, but shinies are also gamble mechanics I don’t invest into much and don’t advise readers to do engage in either. That being said, keep those gamble mechanics/features in mind if they’re important to you.

Nice ideas but poor execution

I hate to admit it, but I think even for casual players, meta-relevancy matters, especially for long events. As much as Chansey’s family is the top of the current gym system, most of my group basically sat out of the event. Rain was a bit of a factor too, don’t get me wrong, but a friend who lives on a pokestop and has an auto-catcher completely forgot about it aside from dropping eggs into incubators for the bonus.

Sinnoh mostly felt like that, with a few exceptions, the biggest of which were the Origin forms of Dialga and Palkia. Their being the new top Dragons with event moves and shinies certainly motivated my communities. However, outside of deep-pocket whales, many of us were simply waiting around half the event for the normal versions to leave raids for the new versions.

Origin forms were easy enough to find people for, but the one time I had to do the vanilla Dialga/Palkia raids, not even my big-spender friends were taking invites with one exception out of about 25 players from various global times zones. Under normal circumstances, I can get a group of four players for nearly any raid, if not more, especially if some of my meatspace mates are unable to drive to a raid location right after they get off/go to work. With a friend list of my size and especially with that many big spenders, having to use online resources is usually a strong indicator of a problem.

We also have the small issue of poor communication and potential deception. As noted on the Silph Road subreddit, players were told they would “[e]ncounter an Origin Forme [legendary] that knows its signature move […].” The singular “an” here with encounter made it certainly seem like you’d get one free legendary out of your experience, and even I thought that was the case in my prep guides. However, that wasn’t the case, and players only could get the legendaries via raiding.

That being said, my raiders were into the pokemon itself, not their Adventure Effects. One person I know is a casual player, doesn’t power up ugly pokemon, and will take Eevees over meta-relevant pokemon 90% of the time. This woman cranked out an hour’s worth of Dialga effect, which is pretty expensive for her. She liked the idea of the timers – but also didn’t like the cost. Her friend, who seems like a pretty big spender, also made use of the effects and came to a similar conclusion: nice idea, but not worth it. To me, that means there’s interest in this kind of item sink, but not for what we’re currently getting.

I doubt Niantic is going to give Adventure Effects a Mega Evolution-type system, especially since unlike Megas, this has no form change or inherent power increase associated with it. However, a candy/dust sink for temporary gains isn’t a terrible idea. For legendaries, having unique effects make sense, but even big spenders don’t feel the current effects (i.e., extending some premium timers or catch/spin radius) are worth it. But maybe something like five Squirtle Candy and 5k stardust for Blastoise to do the same thing? Or maybe something different, like terastrialize? The idea is solid here, just not the execution, particularly in terms of rare currency use. Working on Adventure Effects or a similar item sink system could be one of the best long-term things to come out of the Sinnoh Tours, but as it is, the feature’s got nothing on Hoenn Tour’s impact on Megas.

Similarly, the “space-time anomalies” were an interesting idea, but execution also felt like more of a test run. Essentially, the sky looked a bit different, and there were different pokemon appearing from last year’s Arceus game, particularly the Origin forms being in raids. Changing the anomalies to be every other hour for the Global instead of the half hour we had during the LA Tour was odd. I saw a lot of LA attendees on both global day events get confused by the change, especially after we’d seen so many changes during the LA event. In fact, I would argue that the Global event was better than the paid LA event despite having less content, mostly because the Global content required less driving/travel even for locals, was more consistent in its features, and granted players better time limitations.

The key area we see this is with the raids. While the Global event still lacked raid eggs to warn people of incoming raids (which caused a few of us to stray from groups and chase the nearest raid), the roughly 20-minute raids that returned from the LA Friday event were far superior to the 10-minute versions LA ticket holders suffered on their event weekend.

While I’m glad Niantic made the change, I’d argue most players who’ve played in both city and rural situations could have told the studio to keep the eggs and the 20-minute timers (though 25 could have worked too). I would hope most of the event staff at this point should have that kind of experience, and it should be prioritized over whatever the head-decision maker is trying to do, unless seeming as if the studio doesn’t know what it’s doing is the goal. Again, it felt too much like Niantic was experimenting on players during live, paid events before releasing it for free globally. It’s hard to feel respected when a company does this.

As usual, you’ll see a lot of negativity about the Sinnoh Tours on social media. Those players are not exactly wrong, but I’d argue a lot of it comes down to shiny odds, which Niantic could fix by being more transparent with its gamble mechanics, poor planning like routes being a feature yet not being accessible at the paid ticketed event’s venue, or just plain poor communication, such as with previously mentioned “encounter” wording issue. Niantic did get some wins for function for the LA Tour, but poor pokemon choices and low immersion on site will make it forgettable, while the Global Tour’s experimental changes from the LA Tour were certainly annoying but admittedly led to a more solid experience.

Again, as with the LA Tour, the Global event pokemon picks did leave Niantic in a bit of a bind, especially as those ‘mon are old content in multiple ways, but I also noted how Niantic slept on potential solutions to that, such as not releasing new Megas or making better use of game content from both the Gen 4 games or recent Switch game based on the Sinnoh region. Here’s hoping some feedback makes an impact on the higher-ups at Niantic so Go Fest can be a solid win instead of another poorly planned, testing-live-on-players-during-a-live-event gamble that only barely succeeded. With Niantic’s track record and low revenue this year, I’m worried the successes of Sinnoh could be a fluke and Go Fest will disappoint. Pray to Arceus that it’s most likely appearance at the event this year goes well.

Massively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and expert ARG-watcher. Nobody knows Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go as well as other mobile MMOs and augmented reality titles!
Pokemon Go studio Niantic is considered a controversial gaming company owing to multiple scandals and deceptions, starting with the Wi-Spy privacy scandal; over the years, it’s repeatedly failed to secure player data, endangered players during the pandemic, and refused to address documented stalking in POGO. It also rolled back popular accessibility features to incentivize data collection, faked data, and lied about event results. Following 2021’s community-driven Pokemon No boycott, Niantic vowed transparency and communication; it has not delivered.
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