There have been so many events lately, that it’s actually hard to catch normal Pokemon spawns. But we’ve also been getting an increasing number of paid-for ticketed events. Originally, the only pay-to-play events were Go Fest and Safari Zone events, which happened at physical locations. Last year though, Regigigas was introduced through a special research. A special research that you had to buy. While Regigigas later came out in EX raids, this paid for event was originally the only way to obtain Regigigas.
Since then, we’ve had a steady trickle of more and more events.
Clearly the Regigigas event did well.
After all, we’ve received more and more of these. After Regigigas, we got a ticketed event with Genesect, which was… okay. Genesect was released, almost at random and with a shiny, later on. We also got GO Fest 2020, which turned into an available-for-everyone worldwide event. On top of that, we’ve been getting $1 community day research tasks which offer lots of extra goodies in exchange for more special research and catching Pokemon.
Now, here in December, we’ve suddenly had two more ticketed events thrown at us. The first is a ticketed Kanto event (another Kanto event) which will at some point reward a shiny Mew. The other is a ticketed event for Mr. Rime, the Galarian evolution of Mr. Mime.
You can’t buy these tickets with coins.
Most things in Pokemon GO, you can obtain with patience and time. A lot of both. But for the majority of gameplay, at the very least you can fill most of the Pokedex, you can do the odd raid here and there and you can hatch eggs occasionally. Even items in the shop, and cosmetic avatar items, are all obtainable as long as you save up your coins. Heck, if you have the patience, you can slowly save up 1000 coins and get the team-swapping coin.
These tickets though can only be bought with real money. You can’t save up your coins and buy them. This seems somewhat problematic though, because it targets the impatient. “Buy this Pokemon now!” is what these tickets are saying. While yes, Genesect and Regigigas both came out for free at a later date, and Mr. Rime probably will later, the Kanto quest is somewhat different. For $12, you can buy Shiny Mew. Which, considering how hard to get it is, has a high chance to not be available later. The same applies to the Community Day moves for the Kanto Starters. These are being advertised as being exclusive to Kanto event ticket holders.
Another example of this is the December 2020 Community Day ticket. For $1, it included both Elite TMs. If you didn’t want to spend actual money, you could buy the Community Day Box for 1420 coins which equals $14 of real money. So this HEAVILY pushes you to spend real money rather than saving up coins.
This could lead to a slippery slope, where more and more Pokemon, items and moves are locked away behind money-only events. Or at the very least, non-paying players who miss events having to wait even longer than they do already. It’s already been over a year since Meteor Mash Metagross was available, what’s stopping Niantic from sticking THAT in a paid research thing, just like they will be doing with the Kanto starters?
Why move to ticketed events though?
There’s two obvious reasons: The first is that micro-transactions are constantly taking heat. While there are good ways to do micro-transactions and good ways to do free to play, the genre overall is under fire. Creating events and selling tickets for them is a way around the micro-transaction problem and makes Pokemon GO closer to a subscription service. It strafes the middle ground between being a full subscribe-to-play game like WoW and being completely free to play
The second reason is that they clearly work. People are happily buying these tickets, even if the prices seem kinda high. And if people are willing to spend money, then any company would be insane to stop what they’re doing.
What can we do about this?
Honestly? Nothing. There’s nothing you can do about this. Sure, players could vote with their wallets, but most people seem…absolutely fine with all this ticketed research. So far, everything in them has been mostly optional. We haven’t reached that point of no return, and haven’t crossed the threshold where the game is pay to win. But constantly buying into these ticketed events does mean that Niantic and push the boat out further and further and see how far they can stretch players’ goodwill. The ONLY way one can push back is to just not buy into these paid-for events.
But frankly, I’m part of a problem. I was happy to skip out on all the community day researches and the Regigigas research. I’m going to skip the Mr. Rime research. But… I really, really want a shiny Mew. Because I know how insanely hard a legitimate shiny Mew is to obtain. And also because it’s a guaranteed shiny mythical Pokemon, one of the cutest ones around.