Has legendary Pokémon Articuno been released too soon?

A Pokémon Go player in the US appears to have caught the game's first ever legendary creature

Social media has come alive today with rumors of legendary Pokémon Articuno becoming available in the Pokémon Go mobile game. The rumors first came to people’s attention when Pokémon Go player Kaitcovey posted in her local Facebook group that she now owned this Pokémon, and it quickly went viral from there.

Players took to Reddit to question this sudden appearance of Articuno, and it wasn’t long before users were reporting sights of the legendary bird atop Pokémon gyms in Ohio, USA. As can be expected, many people wanted to know how this came about, but when the Pokémon’s owner was questioned on how she came to own Articuno, that’s where things became a little shady.


The player claims to have been “gifted” the rare Pokémon from creators Niantic themselves, after an exchange via email following some issues she’d had with the game. However, despite being asked numerous times by other Facebook users to provide proof of this exchange, the player has avoided doing so. Kaitcovey did, however, provide a video of the Pokémon at the gym it currently resides over, showing it clearly does exist in her possession right now.

The story the player has been spreading seems unlikely to be true. Not just down to the lack of proof on her part, but also because this would be PR suicide for Niantic at this stage, after having far too much bad press surrounding the game in recent days.

Two very obvious possibilities come to mind to explain the legendary Pokémon’s sudden appearance:

A Glitch

Pokémon Go is already notoriously known for being full of bugs, glitches and server issues. The game has not performed particularly well since the day it went live; could this be just another bug to add to the ever-growing list? If so, is it a data glitch causing a regular Pokémon to simply appear on-screen visually as Articuno? Or has Niantic messed up somewhere along the way with an accidental early release that may or may not be a one-off? I guess only time will tell on that. 

A Hack

Considering the hacking and cheat gathering abilities of many gamers out there, it’s a strong possibility that Articuno’s unexpected appearance is simply due to a clever hack. It may well be a case of someone having edited some of the game data to make it think Articuno has been captured. We already know the data for rarer Pokémon has been written into the game ready for their later release, meaning it could become accessible and manipulated for earlier use, should someone know how to do so.

Either way, this find could turn into yet another mess for Niantic to have to deal with in the game’s so far short but already problem-filled life. In the meantime, I’m sure the game’s fans will have fun figuring this out and keeping the discussion alive in the vast world of social media.

Published Aug. 2nd 2016
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