There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Pokemon Go Fest 2022 was a colossal flop. While Niantic’s financial success was undeniable – the company just announced $6 billion in lifetime player spending – the community’s reaction to the event was mostly negative. I’ve combed through all of the subreddits, social media posts, Discord servers, and fan groups, and everyone agrees: Go Fest ’22 was a complete rip-off.
What went wrong, exactly? The Shiny rates are without a doubt the most contentious issue. While Go Fest is about much more than hunting Shinies, the enhanced Shiny spawns are sure to sell a lot of tickets. Shiny hunting is the only reason many people show up at all. Unfortunately, the actual rate of Shiny spawns did not appear to match Niantic’s promises, prompting some to accuse the corporation of misleading consumers.
Niantic has yet to respond to the Shiny debate, but we have enough information to make some educated guesses. Many of the Pokemon in the pool didn’t even have Shiny variants that could spawn, which is one of the main reasons there were fewer Shinies this year than the previous year. 23 of the 61 Pokemon in the Wild were not Shiny qualified, according to Reddit user /MarsNeedsFreedomToo. When you compare this to last year, when there were just nine non-shiny Pokemon out of a possible 53, it’s easy to see why there were so few Shinies.
The vast majority of reports of low Shiny rates are based on anecdotal evidence, however, we do have at least one data point indicating that Shiny rates were not enhanced at all, at least for one Pokemon. Redditor /feewel discovered a website that uses players’ self-reported Shiny encounters to calculate Shiny frequencies. The Unown Shiny rate was barely 0.53 percent, according to a sample size of 8600 players. The specific values for regular and ‘boosted’ Shiny rates aren’t disclosed by Niantic, but this statistic appears to be in line with regular, non-boosted rates.
We may never know whether or not Shiny rates were increased, and if so, by how much. Some suspect that Niantic gave us the same slightly-boosted Shiny rate on both days, rather than increasing it more on Saturday than Sunday, while others feel the rates were just hacked. I found eleven shinies over the weekend, including two Trapinch, two Numel, Buziel, Litten, Burmy, Larvitar, Patrat, and Groudon, which is two more than last year. Many others, including our own Ben Sledge, played for the entire weekend and came up empty-handed. When it comes to Shinies, luck plays a big role, and we’ll never know whether there was an actual problem with Shinies last weekend or just a perception of one.
Shiny rates, however, were not the only issue. A slew of issues made the weekend incredibly stressful for players, even for those of us who were unaware that others were having trouble catching Shinies. The main issue was the continual ‘ghost spawns’ that occurred when incense was burned. When you tried to tap on a Pokemon, it seemed to vanish from the screen without giving you a chance to catch it half of the time. A visual bug was causing Pokemon that had already fled from the Map to be drawn by Incense and Lures, according to Niantic in a tweet. The company stated that it was working on it, but it was still a problem by the end of the day on Sunday. If you were already having trouble finding Shinies, these ghost spawns surely aggravated the issue.
Raids were also affected by another problem, which Niantic recognized. During raids, players reported a variety of difficulties that caused their games to freeze. I was kicked out of a remote raid for being too far away, kicked out of a raid in the middle of it when eggs hatched, and a raid that froze as soon as the Pokemon was vanquished, to name a few. This issue lost gamers not just time and opportunity, but also any Raid Passes they may have purchased. All of these minor irritations added up to make the entire event feel like a buggy, unrewarding waste of time.
On top of all of these concerns, Go Fest 2022 was a letdown compared to the previous year’s event. There was no theme, none of the wild spawns were rare or highly desirable (except Axew), the raids didn’t have a large number of Legendaries, and the debut of the game’s first Ultra Beast was unimpressive. In comparison to Go Fest 2021, it didn’t feel like a remarkable occasion. Even if there had been no issues and Shinies were plentiful, the experience would have been disappointing.
The Pokemon Go community has had a tumultuous relationship with Niantic recently, which is adding to the hostility around this event. The Incense nerf earlier this year, as well as the recent increase in the cost of Remote Raid Passes, has stoked a lot of resentment among players who believe Niantic is neglecting what players want from Pokemon Go, and this Go Fest appears to have reaffirmed a lot of those feelings. This pessimism is also influencing how people feel about upcoming events like Adventure Week and the Pokemon TCG crossover later this month. Pokemon Go was in desperate need of a powerful community event to remind players why they love the game, but Go Fest 2022 only seemed to exacerbate the problem.