It’s almost impossible to earn Pokécoins in Pokémon Go

I’ve been playing Pokémon Go for more than a week now, and I’ve yet to earn any Pokécoins whatsoever. I’m level 10, I’ve filled up a good chunk of the Pokédex, and I’ve fought in my fair share of gym battles, but I’ve yet to receive any sort of Pokécash for my troubles. It’s getting a bit frustrating.

A suspiciously rich Pikachu.
A suspiciously rich Pikachu.

There are various items you can buy with Pokécoins in the Pokémon Go shop – really useful things like extra egg incubators, storage upgrades and lures to attract Pokémon. Most of the items in the game can be picked up for free at Pokéstops, locations in the real world which spit out three to six random items every time you visit them. But as far as I know, lures and storage upgrades can only be obtained via the shop (or if they do appear as free item drops, they’re incredibly rare).

You can buy Pokécoins, of course, with prices ranging from 79p for 100 to £79.99 for 14,500. But – supposedly – you’re also able to earn them in-game by holding onto gyms. For each Pokémon you have installed in a gym run by your team at the end of each day, you earn 20 Pokécoins. It’s a pretty paltry amount considering that the cheapest item in the shop costs 80 Pokécoins, and that earning those meagre 20 Pokécoins is colossally difficult.

I partly blame my choice of Team Instinct. When you reach level 5, you’re asked to choose a team to join: Team Mystic (blue, mascot Articuno), Team Valor (red, mascot Moltres) and Team Instinct (yellow, mascot Zapdos). The decision was purely made on the fact that I like the colour yellow, and I’m rather fond of the legendary electric-type Pokémon Zapdos on the basis that it looks like an evolved version of Snoopy’s mate Woodstock.

Zapdos: an evolved version of Woodstock.
Zapdos: an evolved version of Woodstock.

Seems like I chose the underdogs, though.

People are already making fun of Team Instinct’s leader on Twitter, and a quick scan of the gyms near my house reveals that all of them are controlled by Valor or Mystic. Occasionally one will turn yellow briefly, and I’ll dutifully drop one of my Pokémon in to defend it, but within half an hour said Pokémon will be unceremoniously kicked out. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

I even spent a good while taking down a gym in the park the other day and installing my all-conquering Snorlax as its supreme leader, only for it to turn red again THE VERY MOMENT I WALKED AWAY. It’s basically impossible for me to earn any Pokécoins.

It turns out that Team Instinct are very much the Liberal Democrats of the Pokémon world - perennially in third place.
It turns out that Team Instinct are very much the Liberal Democrats of the Pokémon world – perennially in third place.

The way gyms work is that if you keep training your Pokémon at your own team’s gym, you can level it up to allow you to install more Pokémon in it. At level 9, the maximum, 9 Pokémon can be placed in a gym, and any attacking trainer will thus have to defeat 9 Pokémon in a row with their team of 6 Pokémon.

The thing is, the highest gym level I’ve seen is level 4, and it’s relatively trivial for a trainer with sufficiently powerful attacking Pokémon to take down any gym. The number of Team Instinct gyms in Edinburgh may be vanishingly small, but I see the Valor and Mystic gyms regularly changing colour too. Which means that NO ONE is earning any Pokécoins, because gyms have to be controlled by one team for at least a 20-hour stretch (I’ve heard it’s 21 hours) to pay out any money.

I very much doubt that this Weepinbell will last long at this level 2 gym.
I very much doubt that this Weepinbell will last long at this level 2 gym.

The only way to really earn Pokécoins is to get together with a group of high-level players on your team, then pick a single gym and tirelessly boost it up to level 9, installing extremely powerful Pokémon. Then it would be a case of returning regularly to keep the gym prestige topped up and stop it falling to another team.

But this basically means that only really high-level players have any hope of earning Pokécoins, and they also need a group of similarly high-level friends on the same team. But right now, so many people are playing Pokémon Go and constantly taking down each others’ gyms that it’s absolute carnage out there and no one is getting a Poképenny.

"Daddy, what did you do in the Pokémon Wars?"
“Daddy, what did you do in the Pokémon Wars?”

In other words, if I want that damn storage upgrade, I’m going to have to damn well pay for it.

And yes, I know the game is free, and it’s ridiculous to be complaining about not getting free stuff in a free game, BUT I’M DOING IT ANYWAY.