Pokemon Go’s Stufful Community Day Was A Much Needed Return To Form

Last weekend saw a bit of a throwback in Pokemon Go, with a classic three-hour Community Day just like old times. Beforehand, there was plenty of resentment building towards the idea – people play the game veyr differently now to how they did when the game was fresh and the pandemic had not changed how we all socialised. Setting aside an hour (or even all three) for concentrated Pokemon Going was plausible back when the hype was at its peak, shiny Pokemon were still a novelty, and huge groups were playing together. But in these much lonelier, more cynical days of Pokemon Go, the longer Community Days that allowed us to drift through them, possibly even split between both Saturday and Sunday, were better for our schedules. Stufful's Community Day was a reminder of why the game was so great in the first place.

Some people won't have been able to play during those three hours, and sure, for them it sucks. But that's how live-service games work. There are other Community Days I have missed in the past, and I still don't have the shinies from them. The whole point of a Community Day is that people gather together as a community.

Related: Pokemon Go, Please Let Me Skip The Raid TimerConcentrating playtime down to three hours is the perfect way to keep everyone in the same place at the same time, and I'm sure some groups that disbanded due to lack of interest or the confines of the pandemic found themselves having an impromptu reunion this weekend when they all gathered in the park together for Stufful. Shinies ultimately don't matter too much, and CD moves vary in terms of meta relevance. What the day is about is getting everyone outside playing together, and that's exactly why the day was such a success.

Having it be Stufful was extremely clever on Niantic's part too. The first few Community Days were major events, as shinies were still very rare and players were desperate to have as many black Charizards as possible. Over time though, as the Pokemon involved became less popular, and shinies themselves became less of a novelty, Community Days lost their appeal. Shinies were available through multiple avenues, and as Community Days either repeated 'mons or focussed on those who already had shinies in the wild, players lost interest. It was then that Community Days lived and died by their meta impact, something which most players didn't understand let alone care about.

This is why Stufful is such a great pick. Stufful was completely new to the game with Community Day. There was no other way to catch it, and so you'd need to play on Community Day to add it to your Pokedex. What's more, Stufful needs 400 candies to evolve, much more than the usual 50 required for single evolutions. Even double evolutions need 25 and then 100, so Stufful asks for significantly more playtime. It's not unique in requiring 400 (Magikarp, Wailmer, Swablu, and Meltan need 400 too), but it does place it right at the top of the scale. This is a Pokemon every single player will want, because it's brand new, plus it has the appeal of being heavily involved in the anime.

It's also a Pokemon you'll need to catch multiple of in order to evolve it, which again, everyone will want to do because it's brand new and fills a slot on the Pokedex. And you only had three hours to catch it. Usually that's the sort of thing I'd complain about in a game, but with Pokemon Go, it feels like it captured the magic of the good old Community Days after years of watering them down.

The one complaint would be that the shiny rate was much lower than usual (I had zero after 60 encounters, and anecdotal evidence from the various PoGo subreddits suggest I'm not just an unlucky outlier), and with Stufful having a particularly interesting shiny, that feels like a shame – but it also feels like part of a concerted effort to have people soak up the day. To not just catch a shiny and then dip, but to spend the day playing the game like they used to.

It will be difficult to host another Community Day like this – there are few Pokemon left to appear with Stufful's appeal, and this day worked because it was a break from the norm, and if it becomes the norm again it will lose the appeal of being a break. But this weekend at least, Pokemon Go was back to its best.

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