Update: I’m still seeing Gen 1+2 spawns on Friday morning, so now I’m going to assume that the Gen 3 event will start with the arrival of Rayquaza later in the day.
Pokémon GO has slowly run into a bit of a problem as it has gradually rolled out Gen 3 Pokémon from the Hoenn Region into the game: simply put, there are just a ton of Pokémon available right now, and there are about to be even more. That’s a sticking point for a game where the stated intention is to “catch ’em all” but that still uses primarily random generation to decide which monsters you’ll be seeing. If the game is choosing creatures from a much larger pool, after all, the odds of you getting that last creature you need to round out your Pokédex is that much lower, and it can make the already extended endgame a slog. When the game first released Gen 3 creatures, I was a bit surprised at just how few of them I was actually seeing out in the wild: that’s going to change, but only for a limited time.
According to developer Niantic Labs, all Pokémon in the game will be coming from Gen 3. The special spawns start “now,” according to a blog post, but only last until February 13. I still see some stragglers from previous generations on my map right now, but it might take an hour or so to make the transition. I hope to see a lot more black silhouettes on the tracker soon.
Niantic did a similar thing a few weeks ago by ensuring that all eggs would hatch into Gen 3 creatures, but switching over all wild Pokémon to Gen 3 is a much broader move that’s likely to get some disillusioned trainers out there to add a few creatures into their Pokédexes without having to hunt them halfway across the city.
We’ll need more measures like this to help manage the ever-growing Pokédex in the future. Weather is one clever way of doing it: by changing Pokémon spawns based on the real-world weather, Niantic gives players the opportunity to purposefully seek out particular kinds of Pokémon at different times. Special events are another tried and true way of managing things, particularly when it comes to rare spawns like Lapras and Chansey. Quests haven’t arrived in-game yet, but those could be a final and crucial piece of the puzzle. If the game rewards players with particular Pokémon when they complete quests, it would give us one of our first opportunities to take the randomness out of the hunt for rare creatures.
Pokémon GO has grown up a lot in the year and a half that it’s been on the market, but some of that growth can create new challenges as the game both tries to expand and patch up some of its gameplay holes at the same time.