It’s become more than a little clear that unless Pokémon GO is actively throwing events, it’s actively dying. Players have increasingly little reason to play during “normal” times of the game now, and with the last event ending in early January, it seems almost inevitable that Niantic is going to try and re-spark interest with yet another event based on a Western holiday; this time, Valentine’s Day.
While nothing’s been officially announced yet, I would expect some hints to start dropping in the next week, with the event maybe starting around the 10th or so, as that’s usually how these things go. Niantic has shown they don’t really like doing the same thing twice for events, at least so far, so that leaves many to wonder exactly what a Valentine’s Day event might hold. And I have an idea.
Yes, obviously the “dream” is to have Niantic debut Gen 2 or Legendary Pokémon at last, but assuming that doesn’t happen (which seems like a safe bet), I think that this might be time to introduce Pokémon breeding into GO. It certainly would be in keeping with the theme of the holiday, and if you don’t know why, I’m not going to explain the birds and the Beedrills to you. Suffice to say, when two Pokémon love each other very much they create a little egg that hatches into a new Pokémon.
The system has gone through many iterations in the handheld games from Gen II to Gen VI, but like everything else in the game, there’s a way it could be streamlined and Pokémon GO-ified for use in Niantic’s title.
First of all, why am I suggesting this at all? Not just to throw the idea out there, but I genuinely think it might become an addition to the game as Niantic is already hinting as much. “Gender” has been added behind the scenes as an identifier in past updates to the game, and already we are seeing male and female Pikachu and Raichu, who have heart-shaped/clipped tails that look different than the “traditional” model if they’re female. I’m not clear as to why gender would be introduced for one Pokémon if it wasn’t going to be introduced for all of them, and I’m not clear why gender would be introduced at all if it wasn’t going to lead to breeding.
So, how would breeding work in Pokémon GO? It would be a pretty simple process, but one that would work toward the ultimate “goals” of Pokémon GO in its current state, i.e. getting candy for specific Pokémon and high IV versions of your favorite Pokémon.
Like the buddy system, which gives your character a Pokémon to pal around with, there would need to be a new “nursery” tab where you can pick and place two Pokémon that are opposite genders. After a certain amount of time, which would either be time-based or step-based, the game would announce that the two had created an egg. This egg would be a new color, and would stay on the nursery screen in order to keep it from taking a slot on the randomized egg page, or not being able to be produced at all because all those slots are full. It would use an incubator and be walked like a traditional egg, 3 km, 5 km or 10 km, depending on what tier its parents were. It hatches and voila, new Pokémon.
So, what would be the actual point of this in the context of Pokémon GO? A few things:
• It would be another way to get candy for specific Pokémon. These eggs would not produce the 5-20 candy you get from hatching randomized eggs, as that would almost certainly be too overpowered since randomness is not a factor. But I think at least giving players the traditional 3 candy for a new Pokémon, plus an extra if they transfer, would be fine. Given the time it would take to both conceive an egg and hatch it, I don’t think this would supplant the buddy system, just bolster it. And frankly, current buddy distances are too ludicrously high anyway, and it could use some help.
• As you may have noticed, you are much more likely to get a high IV (well-appraised) Pokémon when you hatch it from an egg rather than when you catch it in the wild. This would be a way for trainers to chase after trying to get higher IV Pokémon with better move sets by breeding them specifically, as currently, there simply is no way to do that with all eggs being randomized. Current egg hatching would remain in place, as it certainly has the potential to hit jackpots, but like the buddy system, breeding would be a more targeted way for players to chase after specific kinds of Pokémon they want in a way that is less frustrating than the current system.
• Finally, it would simply allow players to produce more Pokémon that they don’t have/aren’t in their area. I am lucky enough to have gotten a Dragonite because when the game first launched, a Dratini spawn was by my house and I caught about 50 of them. Since then, five months later, I’ve caught about three. This would be a way to produce not just more Dratini candy (or insert coveted Pokémon here), but also new Dratini, each with different stats and moves, which is even more important if you’re chasing the dream of evolving/training a big powerhouse.
Breeding makes a lot of sense for Pokémon GO given all the benefits it would bring to the game and frustrated players who aren’t making much progress these days. As for how it would benefit Niantic, they could offer sales on Incubators, for obvious reasons, but also say, Lucky Eggs, given that breeding would produce XP. They could even get really out there and do something like sell an extra nursery slot for a high cost that would allow you to breed more than one pair of Pokémon at a time. There are a lot of options here.
Yes, I want Gen 2 and Legendaries to arrive, and yes, region-locked Pokémon need to be freed eventually, but for my money, Valentine’s Day would be the perfect moment to introduce breeding into the game, and clues buried in the data already suggest this might not be the craziest idea in the world. It wouldn’t fix all GO’s problems, but it would help in a lot of ways, and make for a fun holiday event.