When Brooklyn-based Nick Johnson came forward in late July as the first person to catch all 142 Pokémon that are currently available to Pokémon Go players in the United States, there was a minor outcry in my email inbox.
People started coming forward to downplay Johnson’s accomplishment, saying that they had actually managed to collect all 145 Pokémon currently available in the game, worldwide, including the three exclusively available in Europe, Asia, and Australia.
And, those players all say, they didn’t need to follow in Johnson’s footsteps and go on an international journey to catch those far-off monsters — they had simply gotten lucky in hatching the Pokémon eggs that are more-or-less randomly distributed to players.
But over on Reddit’s The Silph Road community for Pokémon Go players, there was a lot of scepticism about whether or not it was actually possible to hatch the three internationally-available exclusive Pokémon from those eggs. So, to put the debate to rest, Silph Road user CSULBPaintsniffer applied a little science.
CSULBPaintsniffer asked players to report on how many eggs they had hatched, and whether they had hatched any eggs that originated from outside their own continent.
Ten hours and 40,507 eggs worth of data later, the result seems clear: “REGION-LOCKED POKEMON DO NOT HATCH OUTSIDE OF THEIR REGION,” to borrow that user’s bold-text words.
What this means
That means that unless you live in (or visit), say, Europe, you won’t hatch that continent’s Mr. Mime, ever. If you don’t live in Asia, you won’t hatch a Farfetch’d. And if you don’t live in Australia, you won’t hatch a Kangaskhan. For us in America, it’s Tauros.
Obviously, this survey isn’t totally scientific, and wouldn’t exactly pass muster at Harvard. But it puts a huge nail in the coffin for the myth of the lucky international egg-hatcher.
Furthermore, even if you assume that the very next egg in this study would have hatched a Farfetch’d or a Mr. Mine or a Kangaskhan, the exclusive international Pokémon…well, it means that your chances of hatching one were still 1 in 40,508 at best.
This indicates that anybody who claims that they hatched all three eggs isn’t just “lucky” — it means that they should probably be playing the Powerball instead of Pokémon Go, after beating those insane odds three times in a row. More realistically, people who claim to have gotten all 145 without a fair amount of international travel are cheating.
The most common forms of cheating include using GPS “spoofing” to fool the game into thinking you’re somewhere you’re not, or account sharing, where you give someone abroad your password and get them to catch the Pokémon for you. That’s part of why people are paying for top-level Pokémon Go accounts — I’ve heard of accounts selling in the thousands of dollars.
Meanwhile, another common pushback heard from the Pokémon Go-playing community is that John Hanke, the CEO of Pokémon Go developer Niantic, confirmed that hatching eggs was possible at July’s San Diego Comic Con.
The only problem is that, reviewing footage of his convention appearance and all media coverage, I can’t confirm Hanke said anything of the sort. He did say that there were more hidden “easter eggs” in the game for players to find, but nothing about region-specific Pokémon.
So when The Sun reports that a British man caught all 145 by walking around London and New York City, skipping Australia and Asia, you should know that there is probably more to this story than they’re letting on.
Meanwhile, Johnson completed his international quest late last week after visiting Paris, Sydney, and Hong Kong, making him the first that we can verify caught ’em all, fair and square.