Niantic Talks Pokemon Go Community Day Classic, Potential Pikmin Bloom Crossover, And More
Niantic is mixing up the Pokemon Go Community Day schedule with tomorrow’s Bulbasaur-themed Community Day Classic, a first-of-its-kind bonus community event coming just a week after the Spheal event on January 16.
While we love the idea of extra Community Days–and we love Bulbasaur–this new initiative does raise some questions. We sat down with the live game director Michael Steranka, who shed some light on the strategy behind the extra event and whether or not we’ll see more of them in the future.
The first question we had was a simple one: Why was Bulbasaur the best choice for this first-ever Community Day Classic? Besides our insisting it was because Bulbasaur is the best–something Steranka said was “up for debate”–the first Pokemon in the Pokedex was a logical choice for multiple reasons.
“Bulbasaur was one of the first ever Pokemon we featured in a Community Day,” Steranka explained, “as well as a Pokemon that is very relevant in PvP. Also, there’s a great thematic element where in the Pokedex, he’s literally number 001. So we thought, let’s start with him and see where we go from there.”
The Community Day Classic event will also award the highly-effective Frenzy Plant move to any Ivysaurs who evolve into Venusaur during the event. While other Community Day events with returning Pokemon debuted new moves–Eevee’s second Community Day, for example, featured Eevees knowing Last Resort–keeping Frenzy Plant on Venusaur here was a conscious decision.
“We brought in brand-new moves for re-featured Pokemon from earlier Community Day events, but we received a lot of feedback that players want access to the original hyper-powerful moves–Frenzy Plant, Blast Burn, Hydro Cannon, etc–and we wanted to honor that.”
The Community Day Classic Experiment
The genesis of a “classic” Community Day started from the simple fact that the game is approaching six years old, and there are a large group of players who might have missed out on older Pokemon. “What it really boiled down to is, a lot of the Pokemon that we’ve featured in previous years just haven’t been in rotation for a while,” Steranka explained. “We see millions of people come into the game every year and they’ve missed out. We want to make sure everyone is able to get access to these Pokemon.”
Despite this, having a second Community Day only six days after the previous one could engender feelings of burnout or fatigue for the game. Steranka definitely understands this–he played all six hours of the Spheal Community Day this past weekend himself–and acknowledges that the team gets it too. “I definitely empathize with those who may be feeling a sense of burnout with this event being so soon,” he said. “But yes, that is definitely something we’ll be considering.”
For those who may be worried that we’re going to be inundated with Community Days every week, the Community Day Classic happening this weekend is essentially a trial run and player feedback will be key to its future. Player perception for the event will be key to its future, he explained, and as of now the team is not committed to this being a permanent part of the Pokemon Go experience.
“We’re always looking for player feedback to guide us into the future of the product, so we didn’t want to overcommit and say, ‘Hey, we’re always going to do these classic Community Days every month moving forward,'” Starenka said. “Maybe we’ll do it once every three months or 1-2 times a year, or maybe players will hate this and we’ll say, ‘That was a good trial run, but we don’t need to do this again.”
Pokemon and Pikmin
The upcoming Community Day Classic shares a day with another of Niantic’s Community Days: a 10,000-step event for the recent mobile title Pikmin Bloom. Were these two events intentionally planned to run simultaneously? Steranka says no, but the two games do work in tandem very well.
“We do a lot of what we call ‘air traffic control’ with a lot of the teams at Niantic,” Strenka explained. “I think there are some games where a Community Day isn’t as natural of an overlap with one another. In those cases we don’t want a player to have to decide which game they’re playing. “Fortunately Pikmin Bloom plays very nicely with Pokemon Go on Community Days. Thanks to our Adventure Sync, you can be active in Pokemon Go while also getting the kilometers you need in Pikmin Bloom.”
When we asked if any future “cross-pollinations” were planned between Go and Bloom–because a Pikachu in a Pikmin hat sounds awesome–Steranka told us not to get too excited. “As of right now,” he revealed, “that’s not something we’re currently exploring.”
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