The first two legendary Pokemon, Articuno and Lugia, are now available in Pokemon Go. But there has been some confusion among players about whether this is something that is temporarily happening as part of Pokemon Go Fest or whether the Pokemon are permanently in the game now. So which is it?
[UPDATE 7/24: Since the original publication of this article, a new post has been added to the Pokemon website, and it includes a sentence that implies Articuno’s presence in gyms is just temporary. A paragraph on that page reads, “Now everyone can catch Articuno, but it will appear at Gyms only for a brief while, so join your friends and try to defeat this awesome Pokémon.” No mention is made of Lugia. We already know that Zapdos and Moltres are coming to Raid Battles soon, and so this new sentence suggests that perhaps going forward, only one of these three birds will be available at a time, and Articuno is only in raids for a brief window. However, the fact that no mention is made of Lugia implies that this Pokemon has been permanently added to raids.]
Niantic has not been totally clear about this, but it sounds like Articuno and Lugia are permanently in the game now, and they will be available in Raid Battles from now on, not just for 48 hours. However, they will probably be much rarer after Monday afternoon.
For some evidence that Articuno and Lugia are here to stay, take a look at Niantic’s blog post announcing that the two legendaries are now available. In the post, they talk about all of the bonuses that are active for 48 hours only, including the double Candy and double Stardust. Then, in a separate part of the post, they talk about Articuno and Lugia being in raids. The fact that this is not talked about along with the bonuses suggests that the bonuses are around for 48 hours but the legendaries are around for longer than that. Otherwise, Niantic would probably say that everything, including the legendaries, lasts for 48 hours only, throwing the legendaries onto this bulleted list:
Also, the official Pokemon website states, “Legendary Pokémon will continue to appear throughout the year in Pokémon GO.” However, it’s debatable whether this means that Articuno and Lugia will keep appearing in Raid Battles or whether it means that different Pokemon will start appearing over the next few months.
The reason there has been confusion about this is that when Niantic released details of the Chicago event earlier this month, they said that if players in Chicago completed a “mystery challenge,” a “global reward” would be unlocked; we later learned that this “global reward” was the release of legendaries. But in Niantic’s announcement, they have the dates “July 23 – July 24” under the global reward. There was some speculation that this meant that the legendaries were only going to be in gyms on those dates.
But when Niantic later released more information about how legendaries would become available, at no point did they specify that the legendaries would only be in gyms for 48 hours, which would be pretty vital information to communicate. They only said in a recent announcement, “If the Trainers in Chicago succeed in defeating the Legendary Pokémon, that Pokémon will start appearing in Raid Battles around the world, after Pokémon GO Fest.” One would assume that they would add the phrase “for 48 hours only” if this really were a limited window.
It’s worth noting, though, that Articuno and Lugia are spawning at a very high rate right now, and it’s hard to imagine that this will be the same rate at which they will always spawn. So it’s possible that the “July 23 – July 24” refers to a period of time in which these legendaries will spawn very frequently and that afterwards, the Pokemon will remain in the game but will be rarer.
Niantic has said that they plan to release Zapdos and Moltres into Pokemon Go soon, but we do not yet have a specific date.