It was announced today that Pokemon Go is having a "community day" event on Saturday January 20th 2018, from 10am until 1pm GMT. During that three hour window, players will be able to find a Pikachu which knows surf in local parks. The idea of this event is that players will all crowd together in communal spaces, in a short time window, and everyone will remember the community spirit of Pokemon from its opening weeks.
The problem is, three hours is a ridiculously short window, and a week's notice to be at a physical location isn't much notice at all. And this whole event is predicated on the fact that, if you miss it, you miss out on an in-game collectable forever. Considering how much of Pokemon as a brand is built upon completion, the bragging rights of having a complete collection, making a specific Pokemon available for a few hours then never again feels like a real misstep. If nothing else it's a way to piss off those who have patiently and obediently sunk hours and money in the game, only to realise they're working or on holiday during the THREE HOURS a new type of Pokemon is available.
Yes, I have other plans during that timespan – the kind of plans that can't be cancelled. So I now know that, despite my enormous investment in this game since launch, I'll just never get a surfing Pikachu. I'm something of an obsessive collector, as I'm sure many Pokemon players are, and that thought is going to be a huge barrier to me wanting to continue playing.
Games making demands on our time is nothing new, even if it can be annoying. But there's surely a level beyond which such demands are not reasonable, and a scant few hours to get an item you can never get again feels like a real kick in the teeth. For Niantic, this may all be quite abstract. For players on the ground it's a whole other thing. A month to catch a legendary is one kind of ask, but this feels like crossing a line.