Niantic sure has a rather dark and twisted sense of humor. The often criticized developers of the hit mobile game Pokemon Go has increased the spawn rate of Snorlax, a powerful Normal-type Pokemon, across the Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures in Japan. The announcement of the special event was posted on Niantic’s Japanese Twitter account, which was translated and reported by The Japan Times.
According to Niantic, the move is an effort to draw more visitors to the earthquake-struck cities of Kumamoto of Kumamoto Prefecture and Yufu and Beppu of Oita Prefecture. All of which are located in the northern part of Japan’s Kyushu Region. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the region last April 16, Japan Standard Time. Two days prior to that, the region was also hit with a magnitude 6.2 foreshock (a “smaller” earthquake that precedes a larger earthquake).
— Pokémon GO Japan (@PokemonGOAppJP) March 2, 2017
At least 50 people were killed and 3000 more got injured by the two earthquakes. The affected areas are currently in the midst of reconstruction, and Niantic has warned visitors hoping to catch an army of Snorlax to avoid meddling with the ongoing effort. The increase in Snorlax spawn rates will likely continue until March 13, according to The Japan Times.
This isn’t the first time that Niantic has increased the spawn rate of a specific Pokemon in a disaster-struck area. Last November, Lapras, another hard-to-find Pokemon, had its spawn rate increased in areas affected by the deadly March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
So, where does the “dark and twisted” sense of humor come in? Well, in case you still haven’t seen Snorlax in action in Pokemon Go yet, the perpetually sleeping Pokemon has a move called “Earthquake.” This apparent insensitivity caused many commenters to criticize Niantic’s move, though a spokesperson for Niantic told The Japan Times that they have “[considered] various factors” before green-lighting the special event.
It may be insensitive to some, but you definitely won’t hear complaints from players who have yet to catch a Snorlax, let alone train a powerful one for Gym purposes. Along with Dragonite and newer additions Tyranitar and Blissey, Snorlax is one of the best Pokemon to deploy in Gyms. A well-trained Snorlax with excellent Individual Values (IVs) can easily thwart a constant stream of Gym attackers, generating a reliable source of Pokecoins for the owner.
In other non-earthquake-related Pokemon Go news, Niantic CEO has confirmed that the next major update to arrive in the game will be centered on Gym reworks. It will be the next big update following last month’s second-gen release and the second of three major updates Niantic has lined up for this year. Who knows, maybe the Gym rework will make Snorlax even stronger.
H/T: The Japan Times