Pokémon GO introduced raids over half a year ago, and they’ve remained the primary activity in the game ever since then. But the game is starting to run into a problem that was already there from the start, but one that’s being amplified over time: a lack of participation to make raiding appealing or worthwhile.
While Pokémon GO is still far from a “dead game,” attracting millions of players from around the world, player interest has tapered off, and there are less players now than there were six months ago, and certainly far less than there were in the launch window.
That wouldn’t be that big of a deal because few activities in the game require a huge population base. Much of the game can be played solo as you march around hatching eggs and collecting wild Pokémon. Gyms only need six people to keep them fully stocked with opponents. But raids? Raids are a different story.
While low-level raids are able to be soloed by many players, when you start moving into higher tiers, that changes. You may need at least 2-4 more people helping you out for the higher end ones, and Legendary raids are best with as many people as you can find, though obviously some higher level players are able to 2 and 3-man them. This is a problem when raids appear in random places for short periods of time.
Depending on where you live, player population is turning into a serious problem for raids. Many places, all anyone wants to do is Legendary raids, so if you’re trying to do one of the lower tier ones to catch something out of Gen 3, for instance, you might be out of luck. But in some other locations, even getting players together for a Legendary raid is still incredibly tough, and I know many players that gave up on Legendaries altogether because they simply could not find the required amount of people to do the raids consistently.
Coordinating raids takes a lot of out-of-game work, Discord, Slack, Facebook groups, and even that isn’t enough a lot of the time. Yes, sometimes I read stories about small towns putting together day-long raid-hopping parties with dozens of people, and while that’s awesome, that’s the exception, not the rule.
I think it’s time for Niantic to recognize that for a very large portion of their playerbase, many raids remain inaccessible through no fault of the player themselves. As such, I think it’s a good idea for Niantic to have a solo raid option for many tiers of raids, if not all of them.
Obviously group raiding still needs to be encouraged, but maybe Niantic introduces a scaling system based on how many people are in the fight. If it’s just you, perhaps the rewards from raiding are reduced, and the player gets less balls for attempts to catch the Pokémon at the end. But the important factor is that the raid would still be soloable by one player with a somewhat competent team and fighting abilities.
You could argue that perhaps Legendary raids would be left off this list, which I could understand, but even there I think there needs to be better scaling for players to least make the attempt in areas where there simply isn’t anyone else playing. Otherwise Niantic will continue to see a decay of the playerbase with so much content seemingly out of reach.
I know there will be a lot of people who push back against this, saying it defeats the purpose of raids, but personally, I say raids in their current form defeat the purpose of Pokémon in general. The handhelds never had any sort of requirement about joining up with other players to have access to the top-tier Pokémon in the game. The rest of Pokémon GO doesn’t even have that requirement, only raids. I think the idea of limiting raids to players who are either A) using third party tools to coordinate groups for raids or worse, B) spoofers, is a problem. There needs to be more solo options for players, and I hope Niantic recognizes that soon.