Spawn locations in Pokemon Go are weird. I understand that there’s a system in place that determines when Pokemon spawn (they spawn every hour but only appear for certain amounts of time) and there’s a whole biome system in place as well, but it’s really a bit of a mystery as to why places spawn Pokemon.
There’s a few things that we do know. Firstly the map we see in Pokemon Go is based off Open Street Maps, an open source mapping system that works based on contributions by the Open Street Map community. Secondly, a large number of Pokestops and Gyms are based on similar portals in Niantic’s other game Ingress (now called Ingress Prime). Open Street Maps not only gives us roads but also gives a rough idea of what biomes are, and the biomes determine the chances of certain Pokemon spawning.
If you’ve travelled before, you know that water and electric types tend to spawn near the sea or ocean, while you’ll get more grass and bug types. I’m pretty sure you get different types as well depending on how many buildings there are too. You also have local weather affecting what Pokemon spawn, so, for example, if it’s clear and sunny, you get more fire, ground and grass types, while partly cloudy boosts rock and normal types.
On top of that, there’s the nesting system. One Pokemon will just tend to spawn a lot in a small area, and these will change occasionally, normally whenever there’s a new event or update. Just recently, there was a nice Magmar nest right where I normally walk, with a small collection of Scythers nearby, allowing me to catch a ton of them at once. That lasted about 2 days before the Adventure Week update hit and most of those spawns were replaced with Lileeps and Anoriths. When the Adventure Week goes away, those spawns probably won’t come back. Whether they are actual nests or not, I have no idea, but considering just how many Magmars spawned, I’m pretty sure the Magmar nest was an actual nest.
I’m really not sure if actual real life locations affect spawns though. Apparently ghost type Pokemon like churches and things like that, but about 30% of all Pokestops and Gyms where I live are for churches and I still only occasionally see ghosts at night. Honestly I think a lot of that was early-game guesswork.
So there are definitely things that determine which types of Pokemon may spawn. But what determines a spawn point? That is mostly a mystery. Sure, Gyms and Pokestops come into it, but apparently spawn points are determined by cellular data usage. Apparently old data usage as well. Which means that, even if you’re in a somewhat busy area, you might not get any spawns.
There are also ‘biomes’ that don’t have spawns at all. Like airports, apparently. Or maybe just runways. Or maybe that’s just at major airports because there’s actually a Pokestop at the nearby airport for me.
But then you have insanely weird spawn locations.
Despite my dad’s apartment being kinda isolated, there is a spawn right there. I’ve caught two Eevees at my dad’s place. My place, being in the middle of town, has a spawn that’s a 2-3 minute walk away, and another spawn 5 minutes away, but zero spawns right on top of my house.
There’s another spawn in a small village. The spawn is directly on top of a derelict old house. There are no other spawns in this village. Why is there a spawn here? Who knows? There’s a single Pokemon spawn along a main road that can only be accessed by car and only appears if you’re going less than 30km an hour – which never happens on this main road. There’s another one slightly further down that also only works if you’re walking.
In the middle of town though, outside the main areas, Pokemon spawn points quickly vanish into nothing. On the northern part of town, there’s a lonely EX-Raid Gym that gets Pokemon spawning nearby, but no other Pokemon spawn until you reach the next Pokestop. But there’s a spawn point that spawns 3-5 Pokemon just before the roundabout onto the motorway, which no one can access unless you’re stationary by the side of the road!
And then there’s a road on the way to where my mum lives that will guaranteed spawn 2-4 Pokemon. There is one other spawn around the corner at the village offices. There are no other Pokemon spawns in a 3km radius. But why do 2-4 Pokemon, including pretty rare spawns like Charmander and Eevee, spawn here of all places? You can’t even really walk to it because it’s next to a busy road. This spawn is where I caught my one and only Gible, despite having been active playing Pokemon Go all week.
It’s all so weird and it feels so random.
Sure, it’s nice to have a guaranteed spawn sometimes out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s no good being in the middle of nowhere if no one can reach the middle of nowhere!