Pokémon Sun and Moon‘s global event program suffered another black eye this week when Game Freak announced that its players failed to collect 1 million Pokémon through the Island Scan mechanic. With only 661,000 collected, gamers missed out on getting themselves thousands of Festival Coins.
Oh… for shame.
Some might say the global events are too difficult and the goals are simply too high, but I’m going to toss the idea out there that the incentive simply isn’t good enough. And by comparison, I’m going to use Pokémon GO as a counter-example.
Pokémon GO just wrapped up its fourth global event, a New Year’s celebration which spawned Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle more frequently. By collecting these three Pokémon, players were able to finally get over the hump and get the highly treasures Venusaur, Charizard, and Blastoise into their collection, and if they really tried hard, they could get multiple copies and enough Candy to power them up significantly.
Did I participate in this? Absolutely! I needed all three for my Pokedex, and the event helped me get that done.
The previous Christmas event spawned Pikachus more frequently. Not just any Pikachu either, but one with a cute Santa hat! If you collected enough of them, you got a Raichu with a Santa hat. The Pokémon were limited edition, and they will not appear again, at least until next year, just like Santa himself.
Before that, events granted double candy, double experience, free egg incubators for those pesky 10 km eggs, rarer Pokémon appearing at higher rates, BABIES, and shorter lengths to walk your buddies for more candy. And not only did I participate in them, I had fun and was lured back into a game I thought had gotten dull. Pokémon GO‘s developer Niantic’s numbers also show a spike in players whenever an event is happening, so I’m not the only one.
Meanwhile, if you exploit the Island Scan mechanic in Pokémon Sun and Moon, you get to play more mini-games for the chance of standard rewards you can collect at any time… hooray.
Pokémon GO grants prizes that help you obtain the ultimate goal of the game
Pokémon GO is dominating on the global events because it is helping players achieve the ultimate goal of the game. Catch those elusive rare Pokémon, get the chance to make them much stronger. The incentive to play these events is there because you don’t have to go out of your way for pitiful rewards. You just play as you normally do. and you reap the rewards of your dedication.
It’s worth pointing out that Pokémon GO places an emphasis on catching many Pokémon, while the main series has always encouraged players to catch the best Pokémon. It’s a “quantity” versus “quality” comparison here between the two games, and telling Pokémon Sun and Moon players to focus on “quantity” knocks the game off its purpose. I don’t know about you, but I rarely catch more than one of the same Pokémon in the main series.
Some might call Pokémon GO’s approach too casual, but I’d rather have fun playing the game as it was meant to than awkwardly using a mechanic I don’t like over and over again for the sake of helping other unenthusiastic people.
If Game Freak were to offer more rewards tangible to the game or even a limited edition Pokémon like the Santa hat Pikachu, it would inspire players to actually try! Easier events might help, but the incentive for everyone to succeed needs to be there.