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Silph Study: #022

Published:
12.28.2020

The Secrets of Traded Pokémon: Lucky Rates

2019-05-24: Since this study was published, the 75% Lucky rate for July-August 2016 Pokémon it references was called into question multiple times. The Silph Research Group has conducted more research into these Lucky rates and guaranteed trades involving July-August Pokémon. Due to a new understanding of guaranteed trades, the rates for July-August 2016 Pokémon as presented in this article are likely incorrect, details can be found in our more current publication, here.


On the 4th of February, Niantic announced the Lunar New Year event. In a Pokémon GO first, this event boosted the rate at which Lucky Pokémon could be received. This has heightened interest in Lucky rates in general, but the question remains – what are the regular, unboosted rates in the first place?

Fortunately, the Silph Research Group has completed over 9,000 trades since changes to the Lucky Trade system were announced.  We can now confidently reveal that each year a Pokémon ages, it increases its chances of becoming Lucky!

Findings

The Silph Research Group proposes the following as the current base probabilities of receiving a Lucky Pokémon in a trade outside of special events:

Age of Oldest
Pokémon
% Chance of
Lucky Trade
Lucky Rate
< 1 Year 5% 1 in 20
1 Year 10% 1 in 10
2 Years 25% 1 in 4
Jul-Aug 2016 75% 3 in 4

 

The Major Factor: A Pokémon’s Age

Because Niantic hinted that a Pokémon’s age would impact its likelihood of becoming Lucky when traded, this was the Silph Research Group’s primary research focus.

For every trade that researchers participated in, they recorded a variety of relevant pieces of information including the date both Pokémon were originally obtained, as well as the date of the trade itself.

Once sufficient data was gathered, it was determined that one of the simplest ways to explore the influence of a Pokémon’s age was to sort all of the Research Group’s reported trades by the age of the oldest Pokémon and then plot a cumulative frequency graph. The hypothesis was that if a Pokémon’s age influences the chance of a Lucky Trade, then the slope should become steeper as the age of the traded Pokémon increased.

A cumulative frequency graph positions all data points evenly along the X-axis and moves up the Y-axis each time a data point meets a set criterion. In this case, each Lucky Trade moves the plot one point up the Y-axis.

Plotting the aforementioned graph results in the following. Four areas of the graph have been color-coded to make the transitions more obvious:

As is clearly evident, the slope (probability to gain a Lucky Pokémon) stays constant for the first 8,473 observations, then it moves to a steeper gradient until just before observation 9,090 and then becomes steeper again at observation 9,177 where it becomes even steeper for the remaining observations.

Working through these observations, we find that the first change occurs around 365 days, the second change occurs around 730 days and the third change occurs when one Pokémon was caught in July or August 2016. This establishes that there are four clearly distinct and observable age groups for individual traded Pokémon in the Lucky Trade system:

  • Less than One Year Old
  • More than One Year Old
  • More than Two Years Old
  • Pokémon caught between July and August 2016

Results: Increasing Lucky Rates

Armed with the above data, Silph Scientists worked under the assumption that these age categories each have their own distinct rates, and arrived at the following probabilities of obtaining a Lucky Pokémon based on the age of the oldest Pokémon being traded. The following Pokémon were all traded for Pokémon < 1 year old:

Lucky
Percentage
Lower 95% Confidence
Interval
Upper 95% Confidence
Interval
# of
Data Points
< 1 Year 5.77% 5.27% 6.27% 8,473
1 Year 9.94% 7.38% 12.50% 523
2 Years 24.00% 14.33% 33.67% 75
Jul-Aug 2016 70.97% 61.74% 80.20% 93

Can Rates Stack?

So what if both Pokémon are older?

The Silph Research Group’s subset of data involving two older Pokémon remains somewhat limited. However, when one-year-old Pokémon were exchanged for each other, Silph Researchers reported finding Lucky Pokémon at a higher rate than was expected. In these cases, the Lucky rate appeared to sit at about 15%¹.

Due to the limited quantity of data, in this case it is possible that this is the result of some unchecked reporting bias or other anomalies. On the other hand, this might be a real effect that the research group doesn’t yet have enough data to accurately quantify. The Silph Research Group plans to continue gathering data in order to ascertain if there is indeed any influence from both traded Pokémon rather than just the oldest in any given trade.

Guaranteed Lucky Trades

Travelers who have achieved less than 10 total Lucky Pokémon are able to guarantee a Lucky Trade if they offer a Pokémon from July or August 2016.

Some have suspected that evolving a Lucky Pokémon counts towards this total of 10.  However, during the second round of data gathering, Silph Researchers reported a 100% Lucky Trade success rate for Pokémon if they were received from trainers who had been involved in less than 10 Lucky Trades, regardless of how many Lucky evolutions either party had performed.

In order to account for and avoid the obvious resulting bias from this guarantee, each Silph Researcher recorded the number of total Lucky Trades that they and their trading partner had at the time of each trade. Using this information, all potentially guaranteed trades were excluded from the rate analysis above.

Other Potential Correlations

The Silph Research Group evaluated a number of other avenues that might impact the likelihood of obtaining Lucky Pokémon, but the following factors were found to have no correlation with the probability of receiving a Lucky Pokémon:

Friendship Level

There were no observed increases in the chance of receiving a Lucky Pokémon for friends at any currently achievable friendship level.

Trade Distance

No apparent differences were observed; Pokémon with zero trading distance appear to be just as likely to become Lucky as traded Pokémon obtained near their respective antipodes.

Medals

Finally, neither the Gentleman medal nor Pilot medal seemed to influence the chance of receiving a Lucky Pokémon.

Potential Future Changes (Year 3)

In July 2019, some Pokémon will reach the age of 3 years old. The Silph Research Group is excited to observe if there are any changes to the Lucky rates for these Pokémon.

Parting Words

The second round of research for this project made it especially evident just how valuable older Pokémon are. As each Pokémon can only be traded once, Silph Researchers had to search high and low for what is, essentially, a finite resource. Many researchers’ older Pokémon had already been traded before Niantic announced updates to the Lucky Trade system, meaning that they couldn’t be used again to confirm any potential changes or to have another chance at a rare Lucky Trade!

We hope our researchers’ efforts have been helpful, and that these newly revealed rates are useful in planning future trades. Stay safe out there, travelers, and happy trading!

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Lead Researcher Gluglumaster for all their extra efforts assisting with some important last-minute data wrangling.

Footnotes

¹ The following table shows recorded, non-guaranteed trades involving Pokémon that were both over 1 year old.

Lucky
Percentage
Lower 95% Confidence
Interval
Upper 95% Confidence
Interval
# of
Data Points
1 Year

1 Year
14.89% 7.69% 22.09% 94
2 Years

1 Year
41.67% 13.80% 68.75% 12
Jul-Aug, 2016

1 Year
88.89% 68.36% 100% 9