Pokemon Go has struggled with its monthly research rewards for a while now. When first introduced, they were a fantastic addition to the game, allowing solo players a chance to catch some of the Legendary Pokemon that had been in raids months previously. Solo players, or even those that play in groups of two or three, have no serious hope of beating a Legendary raid boss without teaming up with another group, which can be logistically and geographically difficult in many regions. The research box, which required you to complete seven daily tasks in any given month, made catching these Legendaries easy. This month, the reward is Ditto, which shows how pointless these boxes have become.
The research made catching Legendaries too easy, some might argue. Even casual players could now get four of the same type in a month, even by just playing for a few minutes a day. Of course, as the 20 Raikou in my account can attest to, Legendary raid hours are far more responsible for this devaluation in Legendary Pokemon. In any case, it's not because of the worry of how it damages the esteem of Legendary Pokemon that the research rewards have changed, but because there simply aren't any Legendary Pokemon left. Well, that's not entirely true. There are still Legendary Pokemon solo players yearn for, but Niantic isn't finished milking the whales for raid passes yet, so it can't be seen giving Zekrom to the plebs for free.
The first three rewards were Moltres, Zapdos, and Articuno – exactly what the box was initially for. We then had Snorlax, who was still fairly rare back then, before being treated to Raikou, Entei, and Suicune, followed by Shedinja, a previously unavailable Pokemon. After that, the Legendaries we'd had so far were all included together as part of a lottery, something which continued for nine months, with different Legendaries cycling in and out. This was a great balance, mixing the easy obtainability that the boxes were brought in for with an element of luck, chance, and excitement that meant you absolutely needed Regirock this month, otherwise it might not be there the next. After that, we had Flower Crown Eevee, and that's where the trouble started.
Flower Crown Eevee had just enjoyed a significant event, and most players were full up on Eevees. After that, the old Legendaries were cycled back around, before we had months of Shinx, Trapinch, and other interesting but not particularly special or rare Pokemon. Last month, it was Chimeco. This month, Ditto. There would likely be a shrug from players if it was just another Legendary bird lottery, since the box has pulled that trick far too often already, but at least it might be worth going for, if only for the shiny? Ditto is just a bland, amorphous blob we all have too many of, desperately clinging to the pink goo in case breeding is introduced, or some other mechanic that moves Ditto out of the 'completely useless' pile and into the 'mostly useless' pile.
Pokemon Go might just be the game of the century for how well it brought players around the world together, and it is an invaluable treasure trove of ditched mechanics from the main games, but the research boxes have lost all meaning – just as Community Day did recently. Pokemon Go needs to freshen up to get the magic back, and now that the game is finally finished flip-flopping on the pandemic rollout updates, it's time for the game to grow again.