A post on the Pokémon Go subreddit claimed that developer Niantic has breached the iOS App Store Terms of Service because the hatch rates of shiny Pokémon have not been made public knowledge (via The Gamer).
This inquisition began after a post on the The Silph Road subreddit said that the previous rate for shiny Pokémon was one in every 50 eggs, but at some point, it was changed to one in every 126 eggs. The unconfirmed information was found through an external tool that was banned from the subreddit, so an archived version of the post is up here. As such, the recent allegations on the Pokémon Go subreddit said that Niantic was using ‘predatory tactics’ to encourage players to purchase incubators in the hope of hatching a shiny regional Pokémon.
When placed in an incubator, Pokémon eggs will hatch dependent on the distance a player walks. Players are able to buy incubators for in-game Pokécoins that are generated by time spent defending Gyms, and Pokécoins can be bought using real money too. As Niantic has not revealed the actual probabilities for catching or hatching a shiny Pokémon, and possibly lowered those rates without disclosing that fact to players, the author of the post said players are compelled to buy more items from the in-game shop to have an ambiguous ‘chance’ at finding these rare Pokémon.
In Apple’s App Store Developer Guidelines, it specifies that ‘apps offering “loot boxes” or other mechanisms that provide randomized virtual items for purchase must disclose the odds of receiving each type of item to customers prior to purchase.’ Eggs are not loot boxes, as their contents may be accessed without paying any real money, but they are ‘randomized virtual items’. Because the drop rates of Pokémon eggs have never been stated by Niantic, it could be argued that the developer is in breach of the Terms of Service.
Now, an update added to the post’s comments stated that ‘the shiny rate seems to have been fixed hours ago’. In spite of this, players still feel upset as they spent money on incubators to hatch shinies, and the probability of encountering one had shifted without their knowledge. One player explained, ‘It’s one thing for shinies to be mistakenly disabled in the wild – that doesn’t cost anyone money. But when you hatch 30 eggs during a period where your likelihood of receiving rewards was significantly altered, you should at the very least get your incubators back.’
‘There is no reason that odds can’t be more transparent when it comes to things people are essentially paying for.’ A moderator has stated that they are ‘assertively pushing Niantic for clarity on this issue’, and will report back to the subreddit ‘soon’. Transparency regarding randomised items is a hot topic at present, with the big three — Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony — adopting a new policy that requires publishers to state loot box drop rate odds if they want to release their game on their platforms.
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