With each generation of Pokémon games comes new changes made to the online battling system, which means competitive players, casual battlers, and content creators all have to adapt to whatever new system Game Freak implements.
With Sword and Shield, competitive battling became more accessible than ever thanks to dozens of quality-of-life changes made in the game itself, but there was one massive downside within the actual battle system: the Battle Timer.
In Sword and Shield, the Battle Timer is set to just 20 minutes, which is constantly going down as players select which moves to use, if they need to swap Pokémon, or even in the Dynamax animation, which takes roughly 40 seconds across both players. This was brought down from the 60-minute timer present in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, and this decrease severely handicaps most forms of competitive play outside of traditional VGC.
There was no real reason given for the decreased timer in generation eight, but it has forced players to adapt in a way that many feel negatively impacted the battling scene, both competitively and casually, and especially when it comes to longer format singles like the popular draft league style.
Because of this feeling, a group of the largest Pokémon battling content creators, including multiple top-level VGC players have published a video, voicing their concerns with the timer using the #BringBackTimer to try and gather support and attention.
Leading off the video that was published to his channel is pokeaimMD, a prolific Pokémon battler best known for his competing in singles. He mentions his biggest concerns with the shortened timer being the effect it has on full, six-vs-six battles, where contests might be decided at something like six to five because there isn’t enough time to properly compete.
“If I am battling my friend and the game ends at six to five and says that I’ve won, there is no satisfaction in that,” pokeaim said. “It’s not complete, the game is not complete. It’s not over and yet the timer is dictating that the game is over and that I’ve won, but I don’t feel that way.”
He and the other Pokémon creators don’t want massive changes, just the ability to set their own timer or have an expanded timer when playing online. Pokeaim even mentions that the timer customization they want is already coded and available to use in the game.
Those variable timer settings allow players to increase the timer length, set the timer to pause when animations are playing on screen, and more—but not on Wi-Fi. Those options are only available when playing with someone in person.
Pokeaim, along with several other creators in the video like aDrive, mention that this timer essentially makes singles unplayable at the highest level because animations, decision making, and every other aspect can’t be done reasonably within the allotted 20 minutes.
This is also a pretty easy fix for Game Freak, Nintendo, or The Pokémon Company to fix, mainly because there are ruleset updates with every VGC/competitive season that are added to the game.
Something similar could theoretically be done with singles rulesets in a future update, which is something competitive player Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng made sure to point out.
“I like the Chess Timer they introduced this generation and I feel like it would be really easy for them to create a new ruleset where it is 60 minutes, with either a Chess Timer or no Chess Timer at all,” Cybertron said. “Over on the VGC side they introduce brand new rulesets you can download in-game every couple of months that follow the official formats, so I don’t see why they couldn’t create one of those for competitive singles.”
Everyone in the video agreed that there shouldn’t be any limitations like this that keep players from enjoying Pokémon in any form, whether it be singles, doubles, or just playing the game with friends.
“I love VGC and I love doubles, I’m always going to be a doubles player at heart, but I still think that if you enjoy singles and you want to play six-vs-six singles in the game you should be able to,” 2016 Pokémon World Champion Wolfe Glick said. “I don’t see any reason why that shouldn’t be a feasible thing. We shouldn’t have games ending in 20 minutes, because that’s not enough for singles and I don’t think anyone who has played believes that it is.”