This update to the gym raid rewards at first glance or after the first defeat of a raid boss most likely had you thinking "Wow! They actually listened and did something helpful for us!". I know that my initial reaction was "Cool! Now I can raid more efficiently!"(AKA spend more money). However my feelings changed within the next few raids as I realized the addition of potions was not the only thing that they did, in fact they changed several things. More than this they did all of this in a way that I see as a middle finger to all players and especially to the players who really need the items from these raids!
How they should have done it VS What they actually did!
My initial hopes for this change were very high! What they should have done is simply take the percentage chance to receive revives, split it in half and make potions the other half! The percentage chance of revives was so high it was producing easily over double the amount actually needed to revive the pokemon a trainer was using to complete the raid. When I would go out raiding for the day I would easily end with an excess of over 100 revives, many times WAY more! Considering one large potion is all that's required to heal a pokemon that has been revived, this would have given players enough potions and revives to continually raid if they wanted too(which this means constantly giving niantic money as they buy raid passes). Honestly this is in THEIR OWN BEST INTEREST, it literally enables players to spend MORE MONEY. Well if they had done this it would have been great! Every player would have no legitimate reason to do anything but be happy niantic took something we were getting that was completely useless and giving us something we actually needed. However this is very far from what they actually did.
What they did was leave revives still at a massive percentage chance for a drop, well then adding potions as another massive percentage for dropping. The result of this is the majority of the items your'e now getting are revives and potions( two things we can get for free by spinning stops). The things they reduced in order to add the potions were the things that we can only get by raiding! The craziest thing too me is they put both potions and revives at such a high rate for each that I am still receiving nearly double the amount I need for both of these items! This alone is annoying and astonishing that they would do this! What really amazes me is the other part to this, not only did they reduce the chance to receive the items that we actually want and need from the raids with this addition, they further reduced this chance by just plain out reducing the items we were receiving! Which makes it even crazier that with these raids producing around 20% less items I am now getting twice as many revives and potions that I need!
What these changes actually mean
For starters I want to say that I really like the addition of the gym raid system and its rewards for several reasons. The new raid system brings players of all teams together, which is something i think is awesome! We all play the same game and without apposing teams we wouldn't have ever gotten to have fun battling each others pokemon(the new gym system is a subject I wont go into, or shall I say rant about). What I really liked about raids is that they give players a chance to get top tier pokemon with IVs in the range of hatching eggs(which gives players a decent chance to get a top IV). More than this it rewarded "rare candies" which made it so players can efficiently collect the candies they needed to power up pokemon. Which before this addition the only ways it was possible was to either A. Hatch thousands of eggs and catch tens of thousands of pokemon well at the same time being lucky enough to happen across the particular pokemon you needed(which for the mass majority of players this isn't possible!), or B.(which is honestly the only way anyone except players lucky enough to have a combination of thousands of dollars to spend, the ability to walk thousands of Kilometers and to happen to live in a place where those pokemon frequently spawn.. or be able to afford to make numerous trips to locations where they do), is to use 3rd party services.
For this I will use my daughter as an example as my play, spending and gaming experience is far beyond that of 99.99999% of players. My daughter is level 33, she plays a few times a week, she has had very little money spent on her account. Well with the new system(before this update), her play up to this change had gotten her about 200 rare candies(about the amount required to max 1 pokemon, 218 is from level 20 which gym pokemon are all level 20), this is in a months time. For her level this means she could max a pokemon to her level and have a healthy start on another. Since her pokemon are not amazing and not maxed( she has 1 good pokemon of each type, and has neither the pokemon or stardust to max 6 versions of best type pokemon for each particular raid boss) out. She was receiving on average between 8-10 balls. So effectively she is getting 20% less items total from raids now. With 20% less items and now A high chance for drops on two common items, she has recieved no rare candies since this update. My personal data is most likely far closer to what the actual reduction is, as i do what most players would consider an insane amount of raids(in the hundreds for legendary), on average I am recieving about 25% of the rare drops I was receiving before(keep in mind im almost always in the top bracket for contribution), yet i am frequently receiving 0 rare drops and the most ive seen is 9 rare candies(which has happened once) I usually get 3, which 3 is the amount you get for one successful randomized "roll" for rare candies... before this update I was averaging 12(or 4 successful rolls). The thing you have to understand is this reduction doesn't hurt the top tier of players or the players that play the most, this hurts all of the players besides those with the most play. The reason why is because those players actually need those candies and the TM's! This reduction means that maybe my daughter will get enough candies to max a single pokemon in 4 months at her play rate.
Now let me put this into $ value. At my current rate for rewards on candies, buying coins in 100$ increments(the cheapest way to buy coins by value), a raid pass costs a about 67 cents. The cost to earn enough rare candies to max just one pokemon is 48.69$. If you're around my daughters contribution in the 8-10 balls received average from gym raids this number is 69.55$s. Based on the percentages for drops if a player is receiving the lowest amount of balls(the lowest number of items awarded) this brings the average investment to recieve enough candies to max a single pokemon close to 100$'s.
The truth is that this change will make it so that the only reason to achieve a legendary is if youre willing to invest that kind of money to max out a pokemon(outside of simply the first catch for pokedex). Why? The raids that give the most items(the numbers im giving are for tier 5.. lower tiers produce absolutely minimal item drops), give you a legendary pokemon, the only way to practically max one of these pokemon out is with rare candies. Since a single candy from walking requires 20Km that would mean that it would require 4360Km to max one pokemon! For all my walking i would have only produced enough to max 1 pokemon and be barely into another! The experience rewarded is a great bonus too raids, however with the item drops reduced so much it makes it a very empty action to complete. Why ? you need to be getting 3 things in order to actually use the levels that youre achieving, Pokemon, candies and stardust. You only gain 100 stardust if you successfully catch the raid boss, the candies now are essentially the equivalent of catching 2 pokemon(1 for catch plus the rare candies), and the only pokemon you can get exclusively from raids are legendary pokemon, if youre not willing to invest that kind of money too max them out then theres not much use to doing raids outside of a free daily. As you can only max them with those candies and the candies received from the catches. My personal advice to players that dont want to invest the money required is to pick a particular legendary or two you want to max and save your candies(hopefully you already had some saved before the changes!). But honestly just going out and catching pokemon is a way more useful action to make a trainer stronger with these changes, as it gives you experience, candies for evolution's(more experience stored for the future) and the stardust required to power up those pokemon. I would suggest saving your daily candies for Raikou, Mewtwo and Entei(or Ho-oh, however he currently has terrible attacks and is double weak to rock, which makes the High CP an essentially useless tradeoff especially when you consider they nerfed mewtwo by 30% which if they do the same to Ho-oh he would only be a few hundred CP over Entei and putting him as a much weaker choice).
Golden Razz berries this is yet another thing that is an issue now, the pokemon are already very hard to catch for many players, even players with very high skill levels can have horrible catch rates. This is even with the use of Golden Razz Berries, which increase catch rate by 2.5 times. The severe reduction in items received combined with the drop chance reduced by potions removing a large portion of the chance to receive them.. leaves trainers with far too few too use on every attempted raid boss catch( also making it so using these on gyms to heal pokemon is out of the question, which this is the only way to heal pokemon that are high CP). My advice, know what range a good IV is and make sure to save enough so you can use them when you really need them !
I wrote this for a few reasons, a big one is that it annoyed me that they did something that seemed very back handed to me, as the general initial reaction players had was happiness thinking that Niantic had listened and done something nice. However what they really did was really more like using the players requests to stop getting a bunch of useless garbage, as a way to hide them making rewards not much of a reward at all. I also wrote this because its important to strategize the use of items in order to get the most out of your gaming time(with a major change like this to rewards new strategy is needed)! I for instance was dumping my rare candies into random things simply to make room for items like balls and potions, now I will have a slightly larger reserve as I am getting about one fourth what I was receiving before.
I honestly doubt that they will change it back or make it so rewards can actually help the mass majority of players to build strong teams. But if enough people realize this shitty change maybe they will adjust it. At the very least players should understand what Niantic did with these changes and not be thanking them for giving them potions in place of rare candies, TM's and Golden RazzBerries(all things you can only get from raids).
Final thought, you think its a coincidence that they give a bunch of players Mewtwo at a 100% catch rate, then tell the rest of the world the only way to get it is by having "recently" defeated a raid boss on that gym(with no clarification as to what "recent is" obviously to get players to go out and spend a bunch of money!). Force you to play and remove the actual rewards?