Two players playing Pokemon Go at Go Fest.
Photo via Niantic

Pokémon Go devs justify skipping Galar for relevancy with Paldea additions

Hitting trends while they are hot is nothing new for Niantic.

Pokémon Go has come a long way in seven years, but Niantic still struggles with certain live-service elements like deciding when and where to release Pokémon for the game. As a result, players were a bit surprised to hear the mobile game would be bypassing the rest of Sword and Shield to start releasing Pokémon featured in Scarlet and Violet

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Ahead of the 2023 Pokémon World Championships, Niantic and The Pokémon Company teased that Paldean Pokémon will be appearing in Pokémon Go when the next season starts on Sept. 1. According to Pokémon Go director Michael Steranka, it was a decision made for relevancy.

“It was a tough decision to skip ahead to Paldea, but we really wanted to feature those Pokémon while they are super relevant with Scarlet and Violet,” Steranka said to Dot Esports, highlighting that, while fans of the Galar region have so far received a selection of native Pokémon, the remainder were skipped over but are coming in the “not-so-distant future.” In the interim, Steranka and the team opted into highlighting the Paldea region instead.

Galar received a similar treatment back in August 2021 when various Pokémon from Sword and Shield like Zacian, Zamazenta, and Wooloo began appearing despite Niantic still being deep in content based on Kalos and the X and Y games at the time. 

Related: All Pokémon Go Fest 2023: New York City Special Research tasks and rewards

Whether or not this is a decision being made internally to try and cross-promote Pokémon Go alongside Scarlet and Violet’s upcoming The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero DLC expansion, which launches its first part on Sept. 13, is yet to be seen. Niantic has a history of jumping around and releasing Pokémon out of order, even if they aren’t done with a full generation yet. 

Professor Jacq and Willow discussing Gimmighoul.
Gimmighoul was just the start. Image via The Pokemon Company

As Steranka said, this does not mean Galarian Pokémon are taking a backseat at all, it is just striking while the Paldean iron is hot with a few additions like Sprigatito, Fuecoco, and Quaxly—even if we don’t know what other Gen 9 Pokémon will make the jump alongside the Starters. Gimmighoul doesn’t really count since it was actually first revealed through Pokémon Go.

Steranka also mentioned that it is “a special moment” every time they get to introduce a new generation of Pokémon into Pokémon Go, but part of Niantic’s focus in recent years has been trying to work out how Pokémon releases impact the game and making sure the game isn’t reliant on them.

“I actually feel like we’ve made tremendous strides on [Pokémon releases] in recent months and years because there’s only so many Pokemon out there to release in Pokémon Go and we can’t really just operate the game in a way that it only matters when we release new Pokémon,” Steranka said. 

Steranka also said the Pokémon Go team has been happy with the ways it has been keeping players engaged and entertained without needing to rely on a Pokémon release for every event. As the game continues to grow, approaching development “without having to rely on Pokémon releases has been a big challenge” that he says the team is “on a good streak of striking balance” with.

Related: Pokémon Go players banned from city parks while farming gyms—but it doesn’t end there

In theory, this is good for giving the developers more time to better plan varied content that isn’t tied to a need for new Pokémon, something that has been a rarity overall since Pokémon Go’s launch in July 2016—so it might be something to look for more of in coming seasons.


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Author
Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.