Speculation time! Why are the Pokémon GO servers going down?


Pokémon Spotlight Hour

Hello Trainers!!

Niantic announced today that the Pokémon Go servers will be going down on Monday, June 1, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. PDT.  This is a pretty significant occurrence, 7 hours without Pokémon Go.  Niantic was very vague in their announcement, only saying that the servers would be down for approximately 7 hours.

Niantic has never announced an intended major server shutdown.  However, they recently just added code to the game to handle such an event.  So perhaps this will be a semi-regular occurrence?

There could be any number of reasons that the servers are going down, from the very exciting higher level cap to the extremely boring database migration.  With no outright reason indicated… we’re left to speculate.  So let’s do just that!!

I would like to start off by saying that the following is pure speculation! Nothing in this article is based on any sort of inside knowledge or heads up from Niantic or anyone that works for Niantic.  It is 100% pure speculation.   It’s possible that we see some, or all of these changes.  There is also a very real possibility that everything in this article is wrong.

With that out of the way… Let’s get into it!!

Let’s start with this one.  It’s boring… I know.  But this all could just very well be Niantic migrating all of their data to a new database system.  Reddit user yung_lw posted a screenshot of a news article in Pokémon Go with the title “news_header_may_2020_spannermigration.”  Link to the post here.

Spanner is a NewSQL based database developed by Google, so it is very likely that Niantic is migrating their databases over to Google Spanner.  This would probably mean less lag and a more stable game overall.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we won’t also get some game-changing updates, however, chances are that Niantic is going to take this time to ensure that all the existing data is migrated properly and nothing got lost/corrupted.

We’re still going to speculate though, so read on Trainers!  

This would probably be the biggest game-changing update to Pokémon Go since the gym system was overhauled… possibly ever.

About a month ago the rewards for levels 41-50 were pushed to the Game Master file and that was the last we heard about it.  Raising the level cap could very well require some significant changes to the game on Niantic’s end that would take some downtime.

Are we going to finally see the level cap increased?  Many trainers have been asking for this for years, as there is a large number of level 40 players in the game right now, and a significant number of those trainers have reached the experience requirement for level 40 multiple times over.

Raising the level cap raises some very interesting items for discussion.

  • A higher level cap would mean our Pokémon could reach higher levels.  Stardust would be even more valuable, we could see the stardust cost to power up a Pokemon at level 49 reach 20,000 stardust.
  • Go Battle League meta’s would be tossed on their heads, Pokémon whose value was hampered by their CP maxes would suddenly become viable.
  • What is the experience to gain each level going to be?  How many trainers will jump instantly to level 50?

If they do raise the level cap, it will be very interesting to see how it all shakes out in the end.  It would be a major game-changer for sure.

Infographic:

For those trainers who played Pokémon Go when the game first launched, we remember a much different gym system to the one we have now.  Who else remembers seeing gyms with 10 Blissy’s or 10 Snorlax? or 10 Dragonites?  If you’re feeling nostalgic, or you didn’t play back then, you can read about the old system here.

In 2017 the Gym system was completely overhauled.  It was like a breath of fresh air for all of us, however, in the almost 3 years since then, the system has become stale again for a lot of trainers.   A complete overhaul of the gym system is probably overdue, and depending on what Niantic plans to do, it might require some downtime.

Niantic announced they were looking at changing the way coins are earned and are even testing a new system in Australia.  Could that of been a precursor to a completely new gym system?

Some interesting gym tags were also found in a data mine recently, these could potentially be used for an entirely new gym system that would potentially have a much greater variety and change the gym meta entirely.

Gym Tags

The gym tags could mean a lot of things, but here’s some speculation on what they could mean.

  • Great, Ultra and Master: Could this mean that some gyms will have their CP’s capped?  Great league gyms could have only Pokémon that are 1500 CP or lower in them and only be battled by Pokémon with the same CP restrictions.   The same would go for Ultra league gyms, with Master league gyms being open as they are now.
  • Easy, Medium, Hard, Ace: This could be gyms that come pre-stuffed with Pokémon that you have to beat to put one of you’re Pokémon in, with the Pokémon ranging in difficulty.
  • Exclusive, GoFest, Special: These sound like event-based gyms.  Gyms that are spawned in event locations for a limited time

Are we finally getting an integration to Pokémon Home?  For those that don’t know, Pokémon home is the new cloud storage system introduced by the Pokémon company to make it easier to transfer Pokémon from one game to another.  This currently only works between their old system, Pokémon Bank, the Pokémon Let’s Go games, and Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield.  They did announce that integration with Pokémon Go was coming, just in a future update.

Could that update be here?  There’s already a framework for how transferring Pokémon out of Pokémon Go might work with the Let’s Go games.  There it’s a one-way street, they go into Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu or Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee and they don’t come back.  Will the integration with Pokémon Home be the same way, or will they allow us to transfer Pokémon in and out of Pokémon Go?

If they do allow us to transfer back and forth, some “game” prevention will have to be implemented.  Stats are re-rolled when Pokémon are transferred from Pokémon Go into Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu or Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee, so they would have to ensure that trainers can’t just transfer Pokémon over and over until they get the IV’s they want.

Needless to say, being able to bring some of the Pokémon caught in the main series games into Pokémon Go would be exciting.

Open Street Maps it the community based global mapping system that Niantic uses to determine how the map appears in-game, where parks and other map-related features are.  It’s been a while since Niantic synced the game maps with Open Street Maps.  Could they do it during the downtime?  This could mean new EX raid gyms, new nests, and more spawn points.    I know that an update is severely overdue, so it would be nice to see an update done soon.

Do you remember November 14th, 2018?  The day that Pokémon changed forever?  That’s when Niantic rebalanced the CP formula and the CP of every Pokémon in the game changed.  Niantic might feel it’s time to do it again.

This one is more wild speculation at this point than anything else.  I don’t have any links, or recent articles to share that would lead me to believe that this is something they are considering doing.  At this point in the game, with so many people having so much invested in the various PVP leagues it might be inconceivable that Niantic would make such changes.  That may very well be correct, and it very well might not happen.  However I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it as a possibility.

Frankly, I think it’s safe to say that at the very least the main reason for the update is the Database migration.  However it is possible that they throw in some other major updates that they have ready to go at the same time.

What update do you think is most needed for Pokémon Go?  A level cap increase?  Gym overhaul? OSM Update? Or one of the others?  Let us know in the comments!

Fingers crossed for something good!! Stay safe out there trainers.

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