As one of those people out there still playing Pokémon Go on a daily basis, and has been playing since the game launched on iOS in the UK, I do not need any more Pidgeys or Rattattas. I am drowning in candies. I’ve powered up and evolved countless of these Pokémon, getting them to the strongest possible versions I could. I’ve evolved for experience points, then ditched the evolved forms. I do not need any more of these highly common Pokemon.
I still waste countless Pokeballs catching common, low-level Pokémon. I’ve gone and bought lures, incense, additional Pokeballs and gone out on walks explicitly to catch ones I do not need. I have spent real world money on resources which I have used on catching them.
In Pokémon Go, Ditto hides itself as other Pokémon. Ditto is incredibly rare, and when it appears it often takes on the appearance of a far more common, throwaway Pokémon. There are no discernible visual cues that it will be a Ditto before you successfully capture it. You have to capture a common Pokémon, and it might, if you’re incredibly lucky, turn out to have been a Ditto.
I own a single Ditto. It’s not terribly strong, and I could certainly do with a few more to grind into upgrade candy, or to use for trading down the line if and when the feature is finally implemented, but I’ve not been able to knowingly, intentionally catch a single Ditto.
The Ditto I caught came thanks to use of the Pokemon Go Plus, an extra peripheral you wear. As a player who had an otherwise complete Pokedex, I was able to use the fact that the Plus lights up with a yellow LED if you come across a Pokemon you have not previously caught. As it disguises itself as other, more common Pokemon that I already owned, I knew that if my Plus flashed yellow it had to be Ditto. I was able to find it by walking around rather than using in-game resources, but only because I owned a hard to find (and expensive) optional peripheral.
If you don’t have a Pokemon Go Plus, or are searching for a second Ditto, that little trick won’t work. You just have to catch everything you see and get lucky. You have to use up limited resources catching things you do not want. you have to stay engaged with the resource collection aspects of the game.
You might well end up like me, spending money in-game with Ditto acting as a factor in your purchase.
I’m certainly not upset about my decision to spend money in Pokemon Go. It’s a free game that I have played practically daily for countless months, and that much certainly means Niantic deserves to make some money from me. Ditto just feels like the only aspect of Pokemon Go’s design that, at its core, requires players to sink disposable resources into a luck-based economy rather than a skill-based one. Considering how much I’ve praised Pokemon Go’s fair and just microtransaction system, it’s a thorn in my side.
I wouldn’t mind nearly so much if there was a skill-based way to locate Ditto. Some visual cue, some imperfection in the transformed clone, or some odd animation to look out for.