What Are IV Stats in ‘Pokemon GO’?

HONG KONG - JULY 25: Pokemon species Psyduck is seen in the Pokemon Go game on July 25, 2016 in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. "Pokemon Go," which has been a smash-hit across the globe was launched in Hong Kong on 25th July. Since its global launch, the mobile game has been an unexpected megahit among users who have taken to the streets with their smartphones. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

How do IV stats work in Pokemon GO? (Getty)

Pokemon GO trainers have been hearing a lot about Niantic banning players who used third-party apps to track Pokemon or even to calculate their IV. But not all Pokemon GO players actually know what the IV means or how it works. What is the IV in Pokemon GO and why should you care about it?

Here’s what you need to know.

“IV” stands for individual attributes: a set of stats that make each Pokemon unique. Think of them like “genes” for Pokemon. Even if you have several Pokemon of the same species, they will each be “individuals” due to their IV.  Each Pokemon species starts out with a set of base numbers corresponding with its Stamina, Attack and Defense. A Pokemon’s individual IV can increase each of these stats by 0 to 15 points, Poke Assistant explains. IVs can’t be changed; Pokemon are born with these traits.

Pokemon GO trainers can use IV calculators to help them figure out the hidden IV value of each of their individual Pokemon. This is especially useful for players who want the best Pokemon possible. They can use the IV estimates to determine which Pokemon they want to evolve and which they want to transfer.

IV calculators aren’t an exact science, since different combinations of IVs can be attributed to your Pokemon’s stats. When you level up a Pokemon or evolve it, you can narrow down the possible IVs if you’re using a calculator.

The reason why Niantic doesn’t give out IV information for Pokemon has to do with the original reason for creating these IV numbers in the first place: to make them appear more like real creatures rather than just tools in a game. Wired interviewed Junichi Masuda and Shigeru Ohmori in 2014, where they talked about the reasoning behind these Pokemon individual stats. Masuda is a founding member of Pokemon developer Game Freak and worked on music for the Red and Blue games, along with directing Ruby and Sapphire. Ohmori was his successor as the director of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

When Wired asked why they kept IV stats hidden, Ohmori said:

Each Pokemon does have a value but … I prefer to think of them as real, living creatures. It’s the same way that if you have a pet and someone else has the same breed of dog, it’s a different dog. That way people can play the game and my Pokemon will be different to your Pokemon even if they’re the same type… A comparison would be looking at a datasheet on different dogs and deciding about the data on the different dogs and deciding which one you want based on that data — that would be soulless.”

To learn more about IV calculators, please see our story below:

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