On Playing Pokemon GO as a Free To Play Player

I won’t deny it, I’ve spent money on Pokemon GO. Not much though. For the perhaps thousands of hours of enjoyment, I’ve not spent much at all. I’ve purchased a handful of event tickets and the rare €5 coin bundle. But most of the time, I just use what I have, and if I run out, that’s it.

However, I may have mentioned that I started a new account. That account is completely free to play. And mostly separate from what I normally do. It mostly just does community days, raids and the odd event if I can be bothered. It has better luck than I do.

This account is a perfectly normal account.

Okay, sure, it doesn’t have 6 95+% IV counters for everything. Heck, it only has two Mamoswines and one of them is rather underpowered. The account had a grand total of three usable electric types until Thundurus came around. But it’s still got enough to bring a proper team to a raid.

This account even has shinies. It’s probably luckier than my normal account, considering it managed to get both the shiny legendary doggos and the legendary birbs before I managed to. But that might be beginners’ luck, since the account is only level 35. Then again, it’s all randomness, with tweaks to make you crave more anyway, when it comes to shinies.

The main difference is that I can’t go hard on grinding.

In order to get what I want or need though, I have to be patient and practical. This means grabbing any free stuff that’s ever given out, because I can’t just go and buy more coins. The only coin-earning this small account does is via gyms. But only gyms I don’t already have a Pokemon in on my normal account. I actually do my best to keep both accounts pretty separate.

That being said, you can get quite a lot if you do all the event research. At the very least, most timed research tasks give berries and Pokeballs, as well as the odd incense. There’s also been weekly free remote raid passes in the shop that have been quite helpful. For completely free, you can do 7 raids a week, plus a free remote pass, plus whatever you get from timed and special research. Then again, once you’ve done most of the special research, your supply does slowly drain up.

But once I’m out of coins or passes? That’s it, no more. I can’t do anything else and just use what I got. Not that it really matters. This secondary account is only ever used for events and raids now, since we can rarely get enough players to do raids in general. And before you can say “what about remote raids?”, do you have any idea how hard those are to organize without a direct means of communication? Unless you use a third-party app, all you can do is send invites and hope someone joins.

That’s the thing though, some people just can’t say no.

Problem is, all this involves some sort of impulse control. It’s really easy to think that “a dollar for one more raid” is fine. But you can’t do that on an account that’s completely free to play.

I mean, I could. I could get a gift card or one of those temporary bank cards and buy a bunch of coins. In fact, I could do that whenever I want. But there’s no need to. After all, if I haven’t gotten, for example, a shiny Landorus in 7 raids, then it’s unlikely I’ll get it in 8 raids. Or 9 or 10 raids. I could end up spending a lot of money and never getting what I want, all due to chance. So, I might as well cut my losses for now and wait for another opportunity. After all, new opportunities always come around. And it’s not like I didn’t get anything else in the process.

Yet some people will continue to spend money. After all, it’s just a dollar, right? It’s just two dollars, five dollars. That’s how these game companies make their money, from people leaving the realms of free to play, to try and buy what they want.

Really, at the end of the day, a lot of this is just, well, gambling. But I think the whole gambling aspect of Pokemon GO is something for another article.


Medic, also known as Phovos (or occasionally Dr Retvik Von Scribblesalot), writes 50% of all the articles on the Daily SPUF since she doesn't have anything better to do. A dedicated Medic main in Team Fortress 2 and an avid speedster in Warframe, Phovos has the unique skill of writing 500 words about very little in a very short space of time.

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