Real-life sponsored events are coming to Pokémon GO, and Niantic just gave us some more information about what they actually are. No, they’re not the legendary events that we’re still waiting to find out about, which is probably the right move. Mostly, they seem to be official versions of the sort of fan meetups that have been happening since launch. They’re a chance for those still playing the game to get together, hang out, and catch Pokémon.
It’s sort of funny, because that’s all they’ll be doing. Pokémon GO, as of today, still has no real multiplayer or social elements of any kind. The closest thing to some kind of player interaction is arguably lure modules, but that’s just about it. The game has been lauded by many—myself included—for the way it can bring strangers together out in the world. But it does so almost entirely by default, with no actual gameplay to prop it up.
Real-life events could be much more than Pikachu meet-and-greets if players actually had something to do with each other once they met up. PvP fights could lead to tournaments both impromptu and official, or just friendly challenges in the refreshments line. Cooperative PvE could also be a big boon here, with people meeting up, forming teams and taking big creatures down (or whatever that feature ends up being). It’s possible we’ll have some sort of collaborative gameplay by the time some of these events happen, but without an official timeline it’s hard to say.
Trading, arguably, could be slotted in here too, though I maintain trading is a bad idea.
These sorts of events serve as a reminder of how little the game actually supports real world interaction despite being ostensibly perfect for it. And so one can’t help but feeling the cart is before the horse to a certain degree. I love the idea of playing Pokémon GO with people at events either sponsored or otherwise, but the truth is that won’t happen just by getting players together. Maybe we’ll get more soon, but guessing when new features will roll out or what they’ll be is a tough game with Niantic.
Real-life events will probably still be perfectly fun times with this generally good-natured title and its community. But I do wish the game did a bit more of the lifting on that front.