People are Exploiting Sword and Shield's Max Raids, and It Kinda' Sucks

The Gigantamax exploit wastes time and money clogging up the servers with fake Raids, and it's not cool, man. It's not cool at all.

Pokemon Sword and Shield exploits are already rolling out fast, not even two weeks after a record-breaking launch.

Anyone who's searched for the elusive Gigantamax Pokemon in Max Raids probably won't be surprised by the latest exploit making the rounds. It's all about increasing your chances of landing a rare Gigantamax 'mon.

Gigantamax Pokemon aren't exactly easy to find, though it seems like every story trainer in Galar — except you  has one. There's a possibility of coming across one in a Rare Max Raid, which themselves are, well, rare.

Naturally, people want more of these Gigantamax Pokemon. Since they're scarce, look different, and have special moves, they're a hot commodity. Also, naturally, people started figuring out how to break the game and increase their chances of coming across these uncommon Max Raids and Gigantamax Pokemon.

Thing is, it's killing Sword and Shield's online functions.

On its own, the exploit is ... fine, I guess. Sure, risk corrupting your personal data if you exit too late. I don't mind. The problem arises when a rare Max Raid is signaled in the Wild Area. Online. 

When a rare Max Raid pops up, some players go online to trick the system and nab a new 'mon. They'll see if the Pokemon they want is displayed in pixel shadows on preview on the left of the screen.

If not, the next step involves inviting other players. They wait a second or two after the invitation goes out before exiting to the home screen, setting the system's time and date 24 hours ahead, re-entering, and quitting the Raid before starting it.

The game thinks a full day has passed and has a new Pokemon in the Den  but the game also still thinks the same Raid is going on and keeps it rare.

Haha, that's good, right? Silly game being fooled like that.

But it's the other players trying to join Max Raids online that end up dealing with the backlash, and part of that stems from Sword and Shield's rather iffy online structure.

Finding possible Raid partners who don't bring Magikarp to the fight isn't as easy as it should be. In theory, it's easy. In practice, you can wait on matches for a long, long time. And that doesn't even consider your location, plus it depends on whether the game's online is working the way it should (which, it often doesn't).

This exploit was around last week in lengthened form and widely disseminated online. Now, there are several thousand, possibly several hundred thousand, people experimenting with this method at any given point.

That's an issue for the servers for a couple of reasons. The first is how Sword and Shield handle Max Raid requests. After a Raid is finished or canceled, the stamp often remains open. You could wait for ages for a Raid party and never get it just because that Raid was never going to exist to begin with.

The second reason is that these open and canceled-but-open Raids are clogging up the already dodgy Sword and Shield servers. They potentially make things move even slower than usual — just to get to the point where you join an empty Raid and realize it was all wasted time. Wasting time sucks.

There are NPCs you can join up with and not even worry about the online component. Sometimes it works great. Other times, you get this.

I don't know who invited Isabella to the party, but you're fired

Gigantamax Pokemon have special G-Max moves that are seriously strong too, so your chances of defeating one with an NPC party are pretty random. Then you actually have to catch them.

Now, I get the idea behind it. People are gonna' do what they can to get what they want. And Game Freak really made these rare Raids rare. In the two weeks, I've been playing Shield, I've visited the Wild Area every day and come across a total of five Rare Raids, only two of which contained a Gigantamax Pokemon (Butterfree and Centiskorch).

That's pretty astonishing because there's even an event going on until January that increases your chances of finding one type of Gigantamax 'mon depending on your version.

But it also costs money to go online in Sword and Shield, because it requires a Nintendo Switch Online membership. Who knows how many people bought a subscription just to go with Pokemon, but either way, the exploit is a great way to waste other people's money.

There is a way to do it without harming others, though, since the same exploit works on local connections. That way, your friends can either hit you with sticks and move on or take part and share the spoils, but at least they'll know what's going on.


If there's a way to exploit a game and get something hard to find, it's gonna happen. But the issue here is how it's messing stuff up for other folks.

The Raid sharing exploit is suitable for everyone involved, and doing the Gigantamax exploit locally just makes your friends potentially hate you. Doing it globally screws up other people's games, wasting time and money and generally just messing up the servers.

Granted, Game Freak was a bit too on the nose with making Gigantamax 'mon as rare as they are. Still, this is the first time the company's ever done anything like this with Dens and the Wild Area, let alone a pseudo-MMORPG setup that allows players team up together.

Hopefully, some kind of patch comes out that fixes this particular exploit or, even better, Game Freak alters the spawn rate for Gigantamax Pokemon and makes it a win-win for everyone. 


Josh Broadwell started gaming in the early '90s. But it wasn't until 2017 he started writing about them, after finishing two history degrees and deciding a career in academia just wasn't the best way forward. You'll usually find him playing RPGs, strategy games, or platformers, but he's up for almost anything that seems interesting.

Published Dec. 20th 2019

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