Your surname might not be a bad play on words like Ketchum (catch ‘em, geddit?), but if you’re playing Pokémon GO, you’re probably as eager to become a Pokémon Master as Ash was. Despite releasing a beta version and allowing real nerds to test the game, there wasn’t much information provided about it before Niantic let it loose on the world. Their PR team isn’t just terrible at communicating technical information; they don’t discuss the secrets of the game either. Watching Reddit collectively melt down every time a new bit of information is released is amusing, but it means that myths have popped up in the place of missing facts.
Naturally, where one person is claiming to be an expert, someone else will make sure to prove they know nothing. And Pokémon GO is no different. In this case, myths have been debunked mostly by examining the game’s code or by pooling information from players who have spent the last month reliving their childhood Pokémon dreams.
We’ve found 15 of the most common myths and have debunked them for you:
15 MYTH: You can pick up a Pokéball after you’ve thrown it and missed
BUST: A Zubat with Olympic-level gymnastic abilities sometimes defeats even players who have mastered the art of Pokéball pitching. If you’ve ever wasted a Pokéball (or worse, used a Razz Berry and a Great Pokéball and still missed) you’d hope that this myth is true. Especially if you don’t have easy access to a PokéStop.
Just after the game was released, there were reports that if you missed a Pokémon and quickly tapped on the Pokéball as it landed on the ground, you’d pick it up again. Some users even pointed out that their Pokéball count stayed the same when they’d done this, but this is only due to the game glitching out.
The only way to make sure you don’t waste precious Pokéballs is to improve your touchscreen shotput technique and knock some Pokémon hard enough in the skull that they’ll never want to leave the comfort of a Pokéball again.
14 MYTH: Pokémon GO is getting people killed
BUST: As enthusiastic as you might be about playing Pokémon GO, you’ll have at least one friend who is as enthusiastic about hating on the game. You’ll know them because they’re the ones sharing ridiculous stories about how people have died while playing Pokémon GO. And believing them.
There was no massive pileup on a highway caused by a driver attempting to catch a Charizard and steer at the same time. No one has drowned by walking into the sea to catch a Gyarados. And no one is assassinating Pokémon players that have complete Pokédex. It can be difficult to tell parody news sites from real ones – especially for your friends that want to believe the game is evil – but most of these stories are supposed to taken lightly. Or are shameless clickbait articles.
In short: Check the source. Find the truth. Make sure to tell your Pikachu-hating friend how wrong they are.
13 MYTH: The weather will help you find Zapdos
BUST: Ever since the game was released, people have been claiming that the weather will affect what kinds of Pokémon appear. If it rains, Squirtle will appear. If there’s a thunderstorm, you’ll catch a Zapdos. If you live in a volcano, Moltres will be there. (JK. Don’t move to a volcano.)
The Silph Road – who are essentially the Niantic we deserve – have done some research on weather related Pokémon appearances. What they’ve found is that climate and temperature do partially determine what Pokémon will appear, so you will find water Pokémon near water sources and rock Pokémon in deserts, but you’re not going to find a Blastoise just because it’s raining.
As it is, Pokémon GO’s servers are about as effective as Donald Trump’s toupee. It would be impossible for them to constantly download meteorological data and then update the app for 20 million users.
UNBUNKED TRUTH: Some Pokémon – specifically Clefairy and Gastly – do spawn more frequently at night.
12 MYTH: Mew is hiding under a car
BUST: There are already people who have caught all 142 Pokémon available in the game, but even they haven’t found Mew or any of the other legendary Pokémon. Still, there are (badly) Photoshopped images (like the one above) showing Pokémon GO AR screenshots of Mew. Based on these creative artworks, Mew favors mechanics and can be found under cars. Before you go lift any cars (as one does) you should know that none of these are real.
Users who have dived into the game’s code have discovered files for Moltres, MewTwo, Mew, Zapdos and Articuno, but they have yet to appear in the game. Considering that these files do exist in the game’s code, it’s likely that they’ll show up at some point, but it’ll probably only be at special events. This is how Niantic’s game Ingress has always worked and, since Pokémon GO is basically a cute skin for Ingress, it’s likely they’ll do the same thing.
11 MYTH: Certain moving objects will help you hatch eggs
BUST: Depending on how you feel about exercise – or being outdoors where there are, like, people – you’ll find the hacks for hatching eggs especially interesting. Some users have claimed that you can attach your phone to a ceiling fan, or a record player and the app will think you’re walking so that you can hatch that 10km egg without having to leave the house.
They’re wrong. Pokémon GO counts distance by combining your GPS movements with a timer so going round in circles will do nothing. This is how they measure whether you’re traveling by foot, car or bullet train. This makes sure that you can’t cheat the mileage by not walking. Users who have already mastered the game have confirmed this by saying that even walking in circles is a waste of time and that you should walk in a straight line if you want to add miles. Good news! You can stop doing triple pirouettes.
10 MYTH: Spooky places = Spooky Pokémon
BUST: Visiting graveyards or cemeteries won’t increase your chances of finding ghost Pokémon like Ghastly. Those screenshots of them next to headstones are coincidental. Because you can find certain types of Pokémon in specific environment, this seems like it could be true, but according to pooled data from a number of players who have wasted hours at graveyards – there’s not truth to it.
What is true is that cemeteries are often PokéStops and that you might be able to catch many Pokémon at graveyards or cemeteries. Some of these places have welcomed the activity because it’s helped discourage vandalism, others (like the Arlington National Cemetery) have asked that Pokémon GO players respect the sanctity of these places and not hunt Pokémon while there. The dead may not care all that much about whether there’s Pikachu perched on their headstones, but visiting families probably do. They’re called graveyards for a reason.
9 MYTH: Where there are leaves, there are Pokémon
BUST: We’re not sure what the point of those flying leaves are if they don’t show you exactly where you should hunt for Pokémon, but we do know that this is not the case. If you head towards those areas on the map, you might bump into a Pidgey or two, but it’s likely that you would’ve encountered them randomly anyway.
Speaking of grass (no, not that kind), Niantic is currently testing a few new possible updates to the tracking system – one that has been rolled out to most users called Sightings and one that’s being tested by a smaller user group. We’re not sure which one is going to make it into future updates on the game, but it is reassuring that they are trying to find a way to fix it. Whether it will stay fixed is a whole other story – one that involves Niantic buying Australia and replacing the entire landmass with a server farm.
8 MYTH: Twinkle, Twinkle, Shiny, Staryu...
BUSTED: … How we wonder what you aren’t. Because there are no shiny Pokémon in the game. Yet. In the original card game, there was nothing more exciting than opening a pack of cards to find a foil card. Now imagine finding a real one. Well, a real imaginary one anyway. As yet, no one has confirmed for sure that they don’t exist and there are screenshots that suggest they do. Since Shiny Pokémon might be rarer than Legendary Pokémon, it seems likes something that Niantic would make a big deal about.
Then again, it’s not a company known for communication skills so you can’t really rule anything out. So if you do find a Shiny Pokémon in the game, hang on to it the way you’ve hung on to that Shiny Charizard card. (Don’t even pretend like you haven’t been hoarding them since the 90s. We have.) You wouldn’t want to transfer something like that to the Professor.
7 MYTH: Follow the green light
BUSTED: While users should have a new tracking system – one that works – soon, here’s another myth about it that’s been obliterated by the hard work of serious Pokémon trainers everywhere. That green circle that pulses when you tap on the compass is not a Pokémon Radar. The theory went that the pulses told the trainer that the direction they’re walking in is the right one. When you see a Pokéball spinning white, you’re actually seeing that you’re connected to the server. The green pulse shows that it’s updated.
Other than server issues, the game’s creators have had the most difficulty stopping people from cheating. While they’ve shut down third party trackers like Pokévision, they haven’t managed to do the same for GPS spoofing or bots which don’t only drain Niantic’s resources, they also drain user’s bank accounts – they can cost over $10 a month. Since the whole point of Pokémon GO is to, you know, GO, we’re not sure why anyone would cheat.
6 MYTH: The bigger the Pokémon, the bigger its…
BUSTED: Nothing. Because size doesn’t matter. At least not when it comes to Pokémon. It seems strange that the game would include something that seems like a big deal – because it really seems like something that should make a difference – but according to (almost) everyone, it doesn’t. You’d think that an XL Pokémon would have some advantage over an XS one, or that a XS Pokémon would be faster than an XL one, but that’s not the case.
What does matter are a Pokémon’s Combat Power and Individual Value. When the developers and directors of Pokémon Red and Blue, Ruby and Sapphire and Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire talked about stats in those games, they indicated that they wanted Pokémon to be as real the dogs, cats and roosters we keep as pets. The point was that they wanted each trainer’s Pokémon to be an individual and different to another Pokémon of the same type. It’s entirely possible that Niantic is sticking with the same idea. Maybe that will have something to do with their weight in the future, but for now it doesn’t.
5 MYTH: It’s all one big conspiracy
BUSTED: Ok, so technically this one hasn’t been debunked, but peace of mind is as important as myth busting.
In the rush to download the game and become a Pokémon master, we can bet that most of you didn’t read the terms and conditions. Fortunately, some people did. And what they found horrified everyone who had checked the terms and conditions box without thinking. Especially those who had signed up for the game through Google, because they gave the game (and Niantic) full access to all their Google account information including Gmail, Google Drive, Google Photos and other Google apps.
What this means is that Niantic could go through all your personal information, emails and online activity if they chose to. They say they won’t but that’s not the most reassuring statement from a company that hasn’t always been as transparent as they should be. What will make you feel better is that they’ve acknowledged the issue and are working with Google to restrict access. Once they’ve worked it out, Pokémon GO’s permissions will only allow for the most basic account information.
4 MYTH: The team you choose determines your game
BUSTED: When you hit Level 5 in Pokémon GO, you’ll be asked which of the three teams you want to join – Mystic, Instinct or Valor. Since the team leaders give you cryptic clues as to why you should join each of their teams, it’ll feel like a big decision. Frantic Googling and calls to friends might give you a better idea of which team to join. (TIP: Join the one that most of your friends have joined. Strength in numbers and all that.)
Soon after the game was released, there were suggestions that whatever team you were on would give you specific perks like reduced egg hatching time or increased strength. But this doesn’t seem to be the case. You will benefit from joining a team that has a larger presence in your area, which might affect how you strategize about gym ownership, but your choice won’t change your individual game play.
3 MYTH: Eevee evolves based on moves
BUSTED: If you’re a PoGO player and haven’t heard how thoroughly this myth has been debunked, you’re about to learn how to get one of the most powerful Pokémon in the game – Vaporeon (There are more than three Eeveelutions in Pokémon mythology, but for now, only Jolteon, Flareon or Vaporeon are available).
Before San Diego Comic Con, there were many theories about how to control Eevee’s evolution, the most prominent being that it depended on what moves you taught it. For example, users suggested that to get Jolteon, you needed an Eeeve that knew Body Slam. While this theory was wrong, there were some clever trainers who thought that you might be able to control what final stage Eevee you got based on what nickname you gave them. At SDCC, John Hanke (Niantic’s CEO) confirmed that this theory was true.
Name your Eeevee Rainer and you’ll get Vaporeon, Sparky to get Jolteon or Pyro to get Flameon. Start with Vaporeon, you won’t be sorry.
2 MYTH: Offline maps will make the game faster
BUSTED: Considering that Ingress used Google Maps API for location data, this myth made sense. There were trainers that used this hack and reported that their battery life, data usage and game experience was improved, but this was just a case of wishful thinking. After a number of users had tested this theory, their findings ruled out this possibility. One of Niantic’s engineers confirmed that this was inaccurate.
It’s not a terrible idea though. Since this is something they already do for Ingress, Niantic could implement offline map storage in future updates. There’s a chance it won’t make much of a difference at all, but until they update the game to include this theory, there’s no way to test it. Instead of waiting for that miracle to probably never happen, get yourself a better data plan, a few thousand extra battery packs and a renewed ability for patience.
1 MYTH: Niantic are good at PR
BUSTED: Ok so technically this isn’t a myth since everyone already knew how bad they are at communicating. You’d think – as a company responsible for something that’s taken over the world – they’d have an entire division for handling this side of things. You’d be wrong. Niantic have yet to fix a few important things: The Google access issue, server suicides, the tracking feature that doesn’t track and their PR department.
When servers have gone down, Niantic don’t inform people. Nor do they let them know when they’re back up or why they’re down. When they did update the game, the only thing they could tell you they’d done was to fix minor text errors. Text errors?! What does that even mean? Hopefully, they’re frantically putting together a team of PR geniuses that will make it easier for game users to get information, but until then, let’s thank Mew that we have Reddit.