Pokemon GO – Ultra Bonus Week 1 was a Bonus to Niantic’s Wallet, not Players

After three years of Pokemon GO, Niantic has become very embracing of some sort of event or another. For most of September they are doing the “Ultra Bonuses” events – weekly events with supposedly “Ultra” bonuses. With week one in the bag, it’s a disappointment already.

Press F for this event. It deserves it.

For week one of the Ultra Bonuses in Pokemon GO – bonuses “unlocked” by completing research tasks during this year’s GO Fests – the supposedly “Ultra” bonus was Unowns. Many players were excited to finally have the chance to get that entry into their Pokedex. Myself? I was excited to try and get my second letter, having (very) luckily obtained one two years ago in the wild. I also had another goal, one which I’ll talk about later.

For those unaware, Unown is one the rarest Pokemon in the game. To date, a grand total of three have ever been reported in my city. That’s not to say more haven’t spawned, but if they did, they were never found. Niantic embraces this fact, constantly using them as one of the major bonuses at their two real world event types – GO Fests and Safari Zones. So for them to announce that they would be available in 10km eggs – the furthest distance egg type – people were excited. I can’t blame them!

The thing is… The fine print of the announcement said if you are “extraordinarily” lucky. Well, apparently they truly meant it. Research into it suggests that Unowns had a whopping 1-2% hatch rate. Let’s put this on top of the fact that something like only 20-50% of eggs were 10km. It’s hard to put a total on how many eggs were 10km, as it appears Niantic magically upped the rate of them to about 50% from 20% starting Friday (probably due to complaints).

So let’s do the rough math on that (props to my boyfriend for this math here):

  • Monday-Friday: If you assume 20% of eggs are 10km, and 1% could be Unowns this gives you a rate of 1/500. You had a better chance of getting a shiny than you did an Unown. Oh wait, I did.
  • Friday – Monday: Following the boost, if you assume 50% of eggs were 10km, and 2% could be Unown, this give you a rate of 1/100. Wow, so generous!

So what’s the big deal? They release shinies at 1/450 rates all the time! Well… This was supposed to be the bonus for this week. People were cranking out incubators to hatch these eggs, only to be greeted with yet another Slakoth, Beldum, or Larvitar. Now, Larvitar is cool, and if we get another chance to evolve for last year’s community day moves, Beldum is going to absolutely rock the Generation 5 release but… They’re not Unowns. In my local community, to say people were disappointed would be an understatement. To quote a couple local members:

I went through two whole Adventure Boxes of incubators, I don’t even know how many 10k eggs… and only got a bunch of Feebas, a couple Larvitar, and pretty much nothing else of value. 🤬 I have 2 currently occupied super incubators left and only one 10k in my inventory. And I still haven’t hatched a single bloody unown. I woke up this morning and my shoes ran away from me, that’s how sick and tired they are of this […] too lol

About 100 eggs hatched, over half spun were 2K and 5K, and still not one Unown. Very discouraged and disappointed in this event

Personally, I hatched 76 eggs throughout the whole week, walking (well, using the sock trick, because trying to hatch that many eggs on foot is ridiculous) just over 62km. What do I have to show for it? A shiny Shellder, my first Cherubi, a couple Bagons, and a bunch of Beldums, Larvitars, and so on. Well, the shiny Shellder is cool… Except I had two already. A shiny Shellder still isn’t an Unown…

This event massively brought to the forefront that Niantic should be required to disclose the rates for eggs, especially for events like this, and especially in the wake of anti-loot box legislation in Europe, because that’s what eggs are – they’re loot boxes by a different name. Had players known that they were to be looking at either a 1/500 or a 1/100 chance, many wouldn’t have even bothered, but of course, that would have affected Niantic’s bottom line. Of course, maybe they get around this by the fact “oh, you always have one free incubator!” Yes, tell me how much you want me to walk to use that one, single, free incubator when you don’t even always give a 10km egg, you have a max inventory of 9, and the only way to get rid of eggs is to hatch them?

Though don’t games with loot boxes usually also have some “free” way to get the rewards? Hmm…

The real winner for week 1 of the “Ultra Bonus” was Niantic, as players shoved more and more money into the game to buy incubators just trying to get an Unown.

The thing is, week 2 isn’t going to be any better. Interest in Deoxys is extremely low – it’s untradeable, and only one forme has a slightly niche use in PvP. It has no shiny chance, it has no meta relevance. It’s been in EX raids for a year now. It’s still in EX raids. There’s passes out there for this week for Deoxys Speed Forme, but why should people bother even going? They can just fight it in any ol’ raid!

Week 3 is going to be a peak of interest again at least, as Niantic brings out the long awaited Shiny Mewtwo, though the move it comes with doesn’t seem too exciting quite yet. They’re also bringing out the first wave of Generation 5 with some shinies to boot, but oh wait…

Generation 5 was going to come out regardless of any ultra bonus.

Meaning the final bonus is just those shinies and Mewtwo. Wow. Thanks.

Needless to say, this “Ultra Bonus” event is nothing but a bonus to Niantic’s wallets, except for week 2, because… Deoxys. It wasn’t an ultra bonus to players. Shinies are coming out regardless (how about that unannounced Shiny Electrike that came out?), and there’s always going to be a raid boss. They seem to have all but forgotten that they still haven’t fully released the Generation 4 legendaries (though it’s not like I’m looking forward to Regigigas coming out, it’s just that it’s better than Deoxys), and that they still have Pokemon from Generations 3 and 4 to release in general.

All of this follows up on their decision to set the Special Weekly Reward to Eevee with a flower crown for two months (and make it not spawn in the wild at all). Which now, with Deoxys being in 5* raids, means if anyone is on a quest step requiring “Catch a legendary Pokemon from Special Research or a raid battle”… They cannot complete it this week. Good going there, Niantic.

Now here’s to hoping they don’t mess up the spawn tables as I make an attempt this week to get Pachirisu, the non-Tauros regional that’s “easiest” for me to get to – it only requires an about 7 ½ hour drive to reach the most southern reaches of it’s spawn area!

Egg and hatch percentage rates are courtesy of research done on the Silph Road Reddit. You can find more through this thread. The rates (1/100 and 1/500) are both courtesy of my boyfriend. Also, I still have two leftover 10km eggs as-of writing this that I just haven’t brought myself to hatch yet. I will update this appropriately if anything good happens.

Oh, and what was my goal with Unowns? To spell the F word. How fitting, considering what this event turned into. Luckily, I’ll be able to trade for the U still, just need to get the other two letters.

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