At its core, Pokémon Go has always been about getting players up and moving, traveling to places of local interest, and meeting up with Pokémon fans from all over. Go is even in the name! So, in a time of social distancing, shelter in place orders, and so many quarantined, Pokémon Go and games like it have really had to adapt their gameplay to keep players safe. In March 2020, this meant canceling Community Day for the first time in over two years.
It was a hard choice to make because now, more than ever, we need community, but it was also the right choice. So, when just a little over a month later, Niantic announced Community Day had been rescheduled, many players (myself included) were skeptical.
While I was admittedly skeptical of the concept of Community Day: Stay at Home Edition, I feel like a lot of what Niantic did here worked really well. I was able to complete the special research, catch and evolve a Shiny Abra, and power up my Alakazam within the first hour. What's more, I actually had more fun than I expected despite not being able to leave my home.
Paid special research story
While I have had my reservations about requiring players to spend real money for important in game features, the paid special research, Investigating Illusions was, in my opinion, the biggest success of this first Community Day: Stay at Home Edition. At only $1 USD (or local equivalent) it was affordable, and every aspect of the research was easy to complete without needing to leave the house.
A four step Special Research, Investigating Illusions involved mostly catching Abra, but also had steps for powering up Pokémon, transfering Pokémon, and evolving Pokémon. The most difficult step was making three Great Curveball throws - which is to say, it wasn't difficult at all. Completing the entire research came with a ton of rewards too, including:
- Ten Poké Balls
- 60 Abra Candies
- Two Abra encounters
- One Kadabra encounter
- One Alakazam encounter
- Three Incense
- One Rocket Radar
- Five Silver Pinap Berries
- Five Golden Razz Berries
- Three Rare Candies
- One Poffin
- 13,000 Stardust
- 4,000 XP
That's a whole lot of stuff for just one dollar! It certainly wasn't the same as walking for miles on Community Day, spinning tons of PokéStops and gyms along the way, but it did help to make the whole event more rewarding.
Hey, Trainers! Just because the community is physically apart doesn't mean we can't spend Community Day together! Welcome to the start of our 24-hour coverage of #PokemonGOCommunityDay! 🔮 pic.twitter.com/wEh0kk2jVYHey, Trainers! Just because the community is physically apart doesn't mean we can't spend Community Day together! Welcome to the start of our 24-hour coverage of #PokemonGOCommunityDay! 🔮 pic.twitter.com/wEh0kk2jVY— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) April 24, 2020April 24, 2020
Community Day has always been about bringing together local Pokémon Go players. Whether at a local park or at the mall, every Community Day I would set out with my family, and we would undoubtedly run into friends and make new ones as we all gathered to catch Pokémon. The idea of carrying out Community Day without being able to meet up with other players seemed antithetical to the very concept.
While it definitely wasn't the same, I have to give huge props to Niantic's social networking team. They began tweeting, retweeting, and engaging with players from all around the world as soon as Community Day began in the earliest time zones and didn't stop until the last Abra had been caught. For 24 straight hours, they engaged with the global community and encouraged players stuck at home to connect in a different, but still fulfilling way.
Another huge win for this first Community Day: Stay at Home Edition, the boosted Incense was key. While I usually use Incense on Community Day anyways, it was absolutely necessary while playing from home. The parks and malls where I usually play on Community Day all have several PokéStops each with Lure Mods the entire event, so there are always more Pokémon than anyone can catch.
Between the boosted efficacy of Incense and the extended timer, I was able to be constantly catching Abra the entire time I had that Incense running. There was always at least one on screen, not to mention more than a few other Pokémon worth my time.
The snapshot feature of Pokémon Go isn't really something I bother with most of the time. I used it to catch Smeargle and on a rare occasion since, but that's about it. So, when the announcement for Community Day: Stay at Home Edition included a teaser about a fun surprise if you took a snapshot, I figured it probably wasn't going to matter much.
Then I took said snapshot only to be gifted with the happiest little Abra I had ever seen. For those unfamiliar with Abra, this Pokémon spends upward of 18 hours a day sleeping, so they're not often seen up and about, and certainly not excited. It didn't have a huge impact on gameplay or anything, but it did make me smile. I'd love to see Pokémon Go have more photobombing surprises like this.
What could use some fine tuning?
While I was able to complete the special research and evolve a Shiny Alakazam during this Community Day, there were definitely some aspects that could have gone better.
- Spawn rates without incense: As awesome as the spawn rates were with Incense, they were downright abysmal without. When I didn't have Incense going, I would go more than ten minutes between new Pokémon spawning, and the number of Abra was depressing. I know Niantic is already trying to increase spawn rates for players stuck at home, but this is something that they could still improve.
- Shiny rates: Usually, I walk away from Community Day with dozens of Shiny Pokémon - so many, in fact, that I set aside the last half hour for picking the best ones to evolve. Despite having Incense running for three hours and catching tons of Abra, I only managed to catch a single Shiny one. My roommate, who did the same amount of time with Incense also only caught one.
- Poké Balls: I am lucky enough that I can afford to spend money on mobile gaming (or gaming in general) right now, so I bought the April Community Day bundle. That bundle had 30 Ultra Balls (among other useful items.) However, even with that and the rewards from Investigating Illusions, I had to be much more selective on which Pokémon I caught. I just didn't have enough Poké Balls to catch everything. While the idea of having Buddy Pokémon retrieving Poké Balls from nearby PokéStops is awesome, that only worked for Great Buddies or higher. It'd be awesome if any Buddy Pokémon could bring back Poké Balls. Without PokéStops to spin, there just isn't a way for players stuck at home to get enough Poké Balls right now.
Overall, I feel like the Community Day: Stay at Home Edition was a huge success. Sure, there can always be improvements, but I was able to complete the special research Investigating Illusions, catch a decent Shiny Abra, and evolve it into a Kadabra within an hour of play, all from the safety of my home.
But what about you? Did you have a good time during Community Day? Are there changes you'd like to see Niantic make? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to check out our Complete Pokédex, as well as our many Pokémon Go guides so you too can become a Pokémon Master!
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Casian Holly has been writing about gaming at iMore since 2019, but their real passion is Pokémon. From the games to the anime, cards and toys, they eat, sleep, and breathe all things Pokémon. You can check out their many Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield guides and coverage here on iMore.