Before yesterday, I had only ever seen one shiny Pokémon in Pokémon GO. Shiny Pokemon are special, color-shifted variants on regular Pokémon, meant to serve as ultra-rare prizes for committed players and lucky casuals. I play my share of GO, but even so the only one I had ever seen was that single Swablu, and that was on someone else's phone. Today, however? Today I've managed to catch and evolve three shiny Dratini, one Shiny Dragonair and two Shiny Dragonites, all thanks to what has to be Pokémon GO's most rewarding event yet.
Yesterday was Community Day in Pokémon GO, a new monthly event that offers up a single special Pokémon in massive numbers, each of which comes with a unique move that, while maybe not useful, is at least rare. But what really distinguished Community Day is its brevity: most other events last a week or more, but Community Day is just three short hours. If you want your rewards, you've got to show up.
The exceedingly short runtime isn't without it's problems, mostly that it's going to going to exclude any players that happen to have something to do during that time. But that's to some degree mitigated by this being a monthly event, and after yesterday I've got to say that the upsides outweigh the downsides. The short runtime not only brings a serious sense of occasion to the game, but it helps to ensure that everyone who wants to play shows up at the same time, and so even if you're like me and don't usually coordinate with other players, you're still bound to see some wandering the streets in a populated area.
Niantic did this last month, but a special event Pikachu didn't bring a whole lot to the table in terms of sought-after rewards. That has to have something to do with why it upped the ante this month by offering up Dratini, a rare Dragon-type Pokémon that evolves into Dragonite, one of the most powerful creatures in the game. And as a little lagniappe, it also introduced a shiny variant of the entire Pokémon family, the sort of thing that would be almost impossible to catch outside of the event. If you see a green Dragonite out in the world, you can be pretty sure someone caught it during yesterday's event.
It all added up to a three-hour long bonanza, where I saw dozens of other players all giddy with the prospect of loading up on Dratini and getting out to play a game they might not have touched in a few weeks. It felt more like a genuine event, moreso than anything else in the game save the initial drop of Legendary Pokémon or the first weeks of the game back in 2016. It lived up to its name: by offering a valuable reward for such a short period of time, it brought out the Community in a way I haven't seen for a while.
Ever since the beginning, Pokémon GO has struggled with the fact that rewards in the game are almost entirely random, a system that leads to frustration as often as it does joy. Some new additions -- the Legendary catch rate and EX Raids -- have only exacerbated this problem. But events like Community Day show that the developer is also learning the power of guaranteed rewards, something that I hope it can continue to lean into in the coming months.