The introduction of raids into Pokémon GO has absolutely neutered the previous best addition to the game before this point, the Buddy System.
The Buddy System allows you to pick one specific Pokémon, walk with them, and get candy based on how far you’ve gone. But what Niantic has done is introduce a parallel system that litters the map with the rarest spawns and evolutions in the game. They may be tough to beat and catch at times, but it’s certainly possible, and as a result, players are amassing these hugely powerful Pokémon en masse, negating the purpose of the Buddy System almost entirely.
This week, a four minute raid netted us our first Tyranitar, a Pokémon that previously would have taken eons to train and evolve manually through walking a Larvitar in the buddy system. That was potentially months of work and actual, physical labor negated by a few friendly locals to help take him down, and a lucky throw that caught him.
But to understand just how much “effort” savings we are talking about here, let us lay out some math. The time and distance saved here is just astonishing when you actually work it all out. Here’s some data for the current bosses:
Tier 2 Bosses
Muk, Exeggutor, Weezing – 3 km x 50 candy = 150 km saved
Tier 3 Bosses
Vaporeon, Jolteon, Flareon – 5 km x 25 candy = 125 km saved
Arcanine – 3 km x 50 candy = 150 km saved
Alakazam, Gengar, Machamp – 3 km x 125 candy = 375 km saved
Tier 4 Bosses
Rhydon – 3 km x 50 candy – 150 km saved
Venusaur, Charizard, Blastoise – 3 km x 125 candy = 375 km saved
Tyranitar – 5 km x 125 candy = 625 km saved
At an average human walking speed of 5 km/hr, assuming no lost distance because of glitches (hah!), that’s anywhere from 25 to 125 hours per Pokémon a single boss catch can save you, given that you can only walk one buddy at a time.
And of course, these are only the current rotation of bosses. We will almost certainly be able to add the likes of Typhlosion, Meganium, Feraligatr, Gyradaos, Ampharos and Dragonite to this list in the future, in addition to a number of other two and three stage evolutions. And bosses are all usually pretty high IV Pokémon, with a chance for perfect 100%-ers as well.
On top of this, filling in the gaps for Pokémon who may never be raid bosses, is Rare Candy, where each raid can earn you anywhere from 2-10 pieces which can instantly be anywhere from 2 to 100 kilometers of walking, depending on who you’re using it on.
You see our point here, right? Raiding is now so profitable that it has rendered the Buddy System practically useless. Why should we bother walking my Totodile the 80 kilometers left to get a Feraligatr when it’s almost certainly going to be a raid boss soon? Why bother training up another Dragonite when I can probably catch a whole army of them during the next boss rotation? Why even spend time on trying to level up lesser Pokémon like Snubbull or Tediursa to fill my Pokedex when I can just dump some Rare Candy into them if I really want their evolved form?
While the Buddy System used to be the premiere way to target-train specific Pokémon, raids have thrown all of that completely out a window. The right four minute raid with lucky catch can literally take the place of weeks or even months of work, in the case of a powerhouse like Tyranitar.
What’s the fix here? We are certainly not asking for raiding to be nerfed, but rather for the Buddy System to get buffed in some way. The existence of a 5 km tier at all no longer makes any amount of sense, especially because Pokémon at that level are more likely than most to show up as raid bosses at some point. We would start by knocking the distances down to maybe 1, 2 and 3 km instead of 1, 3 and 5 as a start. But past that, we would give the Buddy System some extra bonuses, like maybe you get a certain amount of Stardust (currently the most valuable resource in the game and something you get little of from raiding) for completing certain distance milestones on your buddies. Every 10 km gets you 10,000 stardust, or something along those lines.
The current buddy system has a very narrow window where it’s still useful, where it can help you train up a 100% Pokémon where the odds of getting one of those through raids is low. We wouldn’t trade my 100%, self-made Alakazam for a raid boss imitator, for instance, even if it took 100+ km to get him. But that’s such a niche use of what is fundamentally a great mechanic, and it needs to be buffed to be brought in line with the profitability of raids.
We will state that this again, is an issue amplified by living in a city. We get that folks in rural or suburban areas may only have access to one raid near them, if that, but where we live, we probably have a hundred cycle through at various gyms throughout the day. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet of top tier Pokémon. But the changes we are proposing, significant buffs to the buddy system, would be good for players no matter where they live.
Raids are a great mechanic, but they were introduced without any real consideration as to how they’d effect the rest of Pokémon GO. They essentially devalued every other aspect of the game from catching wild Pokémon to egg hatching, but the Buddy System has borne the worst of it, going from the best feature the game had to something rendered almost entirely obsolete in an instant. There are ways to fix this, and we hope this is an issue that Niantic doesn’t ignore.