Nigel has been playing video games ever since he first picked up a Master System controller in his diapers. Nintendo fanboy.
What Are IVs and EVs?
Before we get into the article proper, here's a primer on the terms used. Simply put, IVs and EVs are fan-made terms to describe the aspects of programming designed to make every single Pokémon unique.
They refer to two different values:
1. Individual Values or IVs
Randomly generated upon encounter. Each of the six major attributes - Hit Points (HP), Attack (ATT), Defense (DEF), Special Attack (SPA), Special Defense (SPD), and Speed (SPE) all receive an IV between 0-31. The higher the IV, the faster that particular attribute will grow.
2. Effort Values or EVs
These values are what separate wild Pokémon from trained ones. Every Pokémon has what's referred to as an EV yield. That means when you defeat that monster, you obtain a certain amount of EVs to a particular attribute. For example, every Patrat you defeat, will give the victorious Pokémon one EV to the HP attribute. EVs, much like IVs, also determine how fast a stat will grow.
The formula is calculated as such that every four EVs in a particular attribute will make that attribute one point stronger at level one hundred, so to make that attribute one point stronger at level twenty you would need five times as many, or twenty EVs (100/20 = 5; 4*5 = 20).
Each Pokémon can earn up to 255 EVs in a given attribute and 510 EVs altogether.
We haven't even had Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon for a year yet and there are already rumors swirling around about the next games in Nintendo's #2 franchise—behind Mario of course. Most of these rumors are exactly that: rumors. There is no official source to verify anything involving Pokémon Stars/Eclipse or any of it's starter monsters, or storyline, or Team Whatever, or even if it will appear on the switch.
However, Ken Sugimori, the top designer for the little Pocket Monsters had a few things to say about Sun and Moon. He said that the goal of the game would be to simplify things, and remove complexity. In particular around streamlining battling, as there were so many moves that all did virtually the same thing, so many abilities that were identical to one another, and that some of that needs to be less complex. Who wants to memorize every single move and ability every Pokémon might be able to learn? There's 800 Pokémon, not including announced event Pokémon that have yet to be revealed. That's a lot of memorization.
The response to Sugimori's desire to see battling become "simpler" on sites such as Gamefaq, Reddit, Facebook and many other Pokémon game sites was that if this means the removal of IVs from the game, then it's a good thing.
This isn't a new sentiment. There have been many players, a large number in fact that have been opposed to the IV and EV training systems for years. That it's too complex and too time consuming. That it means only the players who are skilled at utilizing these tools have an advantage in competition. In fact, they almost always win at the competitions. Players don't want their teams to be slaughtered by strangers in ranked battles or in tournaments, or even in random match ups.
Of course, everyone wants their team to be the best, and of course no one like losing. But there are several reasons why removing these aspects from the game would be a bad thing. But first, a brief explanation of what EV training and IV breeding actually is.
What Exactly Is IV Breeding and EV Training?
First, IV Breeding treats the IV Values like genes. Remember, when you catch a Pokémon in the wild, each attribute can be anywhere from 0-31 (for a total of 32 different possible values, in each attribute) and this determines how much that stat will grow.
The game mechanics include a feature for breeding Pokémon. This was originally introduced in Gold and Silver as being the prime method for obtaining certain Pokémon such as Pichu. A Pichu can only be hatched from an egg in which a Pikachu or a Raichu are the parents. If this seems latin to you, you might have to revisit Pokémon again, as Pikachu is the franchise's primary mascot, and is seen pretty much everywhere, on anything to do with the series.
Anyway, it was discovered that breeding can be used for more than obtaining mass amounts of Pokémon. It can also be used to pass on attributes. Basically, if the IVs are the genetic material that make every Pokémon unique, then you can pass IVs on to offspring. So, using our Pichu example, you would breed a Pikachu with a high IVs in HP with a Pikachu that has high IVs in Speed with the hopes of obtaining a Pichu with High IVs in both attributes. You would then grow this Pichu into a Pikachu and breed it with another, in the hopes of getting higher attribute each time.
This is a method of deciding which attribute you want to grow most. So, for example, fighting a Patrat increases your Pokémon's Hit Point attributes by adding one EV to it. Of course it takes more than one EV to increase it's attributes. At level 100, it requires 4 EVs to increase an attribute a single point. 8 EVs at level 50, 16 EVs at level 25, and so on following that inverse pattern.
So, let's say were convinced your little pocket monster needed to have as many Hit Points as possible, to the point where you are willing to sacrifice another attribute and let other attributes be weaker. You would only battle enemies that would result in increasing your EVs to the HP attribute. For example, you could battle nothing but Patrats.
There is a small catch. There is a maximum number of EVs you can earn. 255 to a given attribute, and 510 across all attributes, so you can only max out the effort values in two attributes.
So Why Are EVs and IVs so Bad?
Most people don't like IV Breeding and EV training because they take effort. And time. And plenty of both. It's hard work. It's a children's game, it doesn't need to be so complex. In my description I made IV breeding sound simple, but it really isn't. It doesn't automatically pick the strongest Attributes of the parents and send them to the offspring. It sends one attribute from each parent, and then a third attribute which could be from either parent. And then the other three attributes are still decided at random, and have nothing to do with parentage. With a Pokémon holding a certain item, that number increases to five attributes from the parents and one randomly determined attribute.
So, let's take a look at that Pichu example from earlier. With five possible attributes from either parent that could be passed down that aren't perfect, and one attribute from each parent that is, you're going to be hatching a lot of Pichu before you get one with the perfect attributes. And that just gives you a new future parent with two perfect attributes. You then need to find a new Pikachu, of the opposite gender as our new offspring, and find one with a perfect attribute in yet another stat, and then start the process all over again. After days, sometimes weeks, you might finally get a monster with 31 IV's in all attributes... but since at least one attribute will always be randomly decided, most breeders settle for five of the six.
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Furthermore, it's not like you can just catch a Pokémon and know it has perfect attributes. The only way to do that is to visit "the Pokémon judge." And in most games, the Pokémon judge is in a location that doesn't become available until after the main story, (in the case of X/Y see the video) so you really have to wait to start breeding. There are also IV calculators on the internet, but without data from the judge, it can be very time consuming to find out if your monster has at least a few decent stats.
Combine all this with the fact that some Pokémon have abilities that are more beneficial to battle, and how they too can be passed on during breeding, natures, and the fact some Pokémon only learn certain attacks through breeding, you have an extremely complex system set up.
EV training is also time consuming, but not nearly as time consuming as breeding. It does involve doing research to find out what monsters you need to battle to boost those attributes, and of course, you are going to have to track them some how, so while it doesn't involve as much time or energy, EV Training still requires a lot of work and actual effort. They're called "Effort Values" for a reason, after all.
If They Are so Bad, Why Keep Them?
1. It gives players who have completed the main story a reason to continue playing.
Alright... I admit... it took me over 100 hours to complete the main portion of Pokémon X and Y (I own both). That includes defeating the bad guys, becoming Pokémon League Champion, doing the post-game missions, finding all the major items hidden around... It's not like the Pokémon franchise doesn't offer plenty of gaming and plenty to do post-game. But at some point, we need a reason to keep picking them up. And trying to obtain the perfect team through IV breeding and EV training, being as time consuming as it it, is just that reason. The need to pick up a game and continue playing a currently existing file is part of what makes the series so popular, and what makes any game more memorable.
It's not just a kids game.
Of course, children will always be the target audience of Pokémon. But the series is seventeen years old, turning eighteen later this year. That means players of the original Red/Green/Blue/Yellow games - often called "genwunners" are now adults. People who were born the year those games came out will be entering adulthood this year.
This is a game that has in all aspects defined a generation. Of course, the game will always have an innocent enough story and be something children can easily learn how to play. But the complex stuff isn't for kids. It's for the players who started playing back when they were kids and are now adults. the whole definition of the Pokémon franchise is exactly about that combination: Seconds to learn, a lifetime to master. You don't need to know how to IV breed or EV train to play the game, or even beat it. It's just something to give you a competitive edge.
It makes the competitions actually feel like competitions.
Here's the thing, everyone complains that IV breeders and EV trainers do better in competitions. Well, of course they do. If you want to play football, and you want to win the Super Bowl (or the World Cup if you're from Europe and that's what football makes you think of), you don't get there without time and effort. You train, daily. You practice, you learn what works, and what doesn't. You develop better strategies, learn how to counter certain offensive or defensive moves, and you become stronger or better.
For competitive Pokémon playing, it's the same thing. You don't just take the first five random Pokémon you encounter and expect it to sweep the championships. You work hard, and players have put countless months, even years into building their perfect team. In that situation, competitions then become an actual measure of a player's skill in all areas of the game, and we can truly see who has become a "Pokémon master." You take away that aspect of the game, competitions become meaningless once you've removed the aspects that show how much effort you've put into your team.
This recently released service can store 3,000 of your little monsters in an online "cloud service" bank. Now, what has this to do with IVs and EVs? Simple. Removing them from the game altogether makes the main reason to have Pokémon Bank obsolete.
Pokémon Bank is a paid service. So I'm shelling out my own cash to store my Pokémon online. I do this because it's presumed that Pokémon Bank will be the only way to transfer monsters from current generations into future generations. But not if they remove IVs. The reason we couldn't transfer Pokémon from Gold/Silver on the Game Boy or Game Boy Color to Ruby/Sapphire on the Game Boy Advance was not because the technologies were incompatible. But because they overhauled the attributes system.
They added two new attributes (adding defense and replacing "special" with "special attack" and "special defense"), and changed the range of values for each from 0-15 in the Game Boy games to 0-31 in the Game Boy Advance series. this meant no Pokémon could be transferred over. You make more another overhaul to the coding like that, we could get this very same problem, and then the subscription service we're paying for will become obsolete.
Game Freak and Nintendo have made doing these things easier.
They didn't have to. IVs and EVs are literally just numbers in the games programming. IVs were designed to make each Pokémon unique, and EVs were designed to ensure trained ones were stronger than wild ones. EVs are also the reason you can't just use "Rare Candies" to level up your Pokémon to 100. I mean, you could, but it wouldn't be as strong as one that was properly trained. This encourages players to use their monsters and battle with them. But all they are are coding.
Players aren't really supposed to know they exist. But some players looked at the code, found out, and used it to their advantage - without violating the rules of the game. They just learned how to use existing game mechanics to the fullest. Nintendo and Game Freak found out, and has made it easier for players to do this. We can now find out if our Pokémon has any good stats.
In certain areas or under certain conditions, we have an increased chance of finding wild Pokémon with higher stats. We can transfer 5 stats instead of three, abilities exist to hasten how long it takes to hatch an egg, making the breeding process faster. What used to take months to do for just one offspring can now be done in days.
Please, if anyone who works for Nintendo comes across this, don't take away EVs or IVs. And if you're one of the guys who keeps saying they need to go, stop. It won't make the game any better at all. You'll win a few more battles against strangers, but your victory will become much more hollow.
Saufron on July 21, 2018:
I mean, I actually do play Pokemon. It is just I don't play the newer Pokemon games.
I play Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow where the only sort of training is leveling up your Pokemon which is just awesome. I have the time of my life with playing Gen 1 Pokemon games because they are so simple and dead to the point in terms of getting your Pokemon stronger.
I actually tried play Pokemon X today, and honestly, holy sh** it takes forever to try and get perfect IVs, EV train, the right nature, the egg move(s) you want, a held item, the right gender, and I feel like the list just keeps going. Like wtf.
Saufron on July 21, 2018:
IVs, EVs, and Z moves are why I don't play Pokemon anymore.
EVs I can deal with. IVs and Z moves seriously need to fking go.
Saufron on July 21, 2018:
Yeah, remove IVs. IVs are way too of a time investment. EVs also need to be easier and faster to get done with.
Honestly, all I want to do is cap out my whole team at level 100 and have maximized stats so I won't have a disadvantage over other players who have capped out IVs/EVs.
Sorry, IVs need to go. EVs need to be made easier and a lot less tedious.
SJMistery on March 06, 2018:
You confuse "hard" with "tedious".
Breeding for a month until you get the right IVs, ability, etc on your mon is not hard, you just walk back and forth over and over opening and checking egg after egg. It's easy, but it takes a lot of time. In other words, it is BORING. And other than Hidden Power Type, Trick Room or confusion self-damage, there is no reason to not want to have all IVs at 31. Trick Room and confusion woouldn't be seriously affected by not having 0 IVs on speed or attack, as it is a comparatively small difference, and Hidden Power should be adjustable anyway. IVs HAVE NO GOOD REASON TO EXIST AT ALL, AND HAVE NEVER BEEN. Thank god for the bottle caps that essentially remove them from the game, in addition to letting HP Fire pokemon to have full speed (AKA no more Scarf Latios/Gengar getting outsped and killed by, say, +2 cloyster only because you needed HP fire for Ferrothorn).
EVs are a more debatable thing. Being a way to customize stats, they can add something to the game. BUUUT, there should be a way to raise it up fast. And the removal of hordes means it has become an annoying, slow grind again for a fucking hour while you wait the enemy pokemon to randomly call help. Also, I personally believe the cap should be either raised or lowered a little bit. Having always at least two wasted EVs due to the 510 cap not being divisible by 4 (nor 8 or 16) is just stupid.
meh on August 05, 2017:
You're mistaking time invested with skill. Almost anybody can put time into IV breeding and EV training. This doesn't make you better at the game. You don't need any particular skillset to be good at IV breeding or EV training, and the more time you put into it doesn't make you better at it. It's simply pulling up a guide and then following the instructions, and then doing it again, and again, and again.
Just because something is hard or time consuming doesn't mean it took skill. You can argue that knowing where to invest EVs is a skill, and adds depth to the game, but it's still so time consuming that only the most hardcore players will do it (or cheat, since it's very easy to hack in Pokemon). IVs as a system is pretty bad, although the Bottle Caps make it a little better. From a game design standpoint, having invisible stats that you need an external calculator to figure out isn't good, and not having any way to increase it outside of luck and time is also not good. EVs have become way more visible over the years, which is a very positive change, but again, it requires lots of time. People wouldn't mind these systems if they weren't invisible and time consuming.
From a game balance standpoint, IVs and EVs are also bad. A Pokemon's base stats are what makes it balanced. IVs give a massive boost to a Pokemon that has good ones over one that doesn't, meaning you are absolutely required to sink tons of time into a random system to be competitive, even if you're already good at everything else in the game. And EVs give big boosts to stats that have enough investments in them. Because of the way EVs work, you almost always just want to use a 252/252/4 spread, and some Pokemon benefit from this more than others. A Pokemon with even stats across all fields, like Glalie, is a pretty fun and interesting Pokemon when there aren't EVs involved. But it gets completely overshadowed by glass cannons like Haxorus, who even though he has worse bulk, can have a maxed out Attack and Speed stat, making him specialized and therefore better. Pokemon with general spreads can't compete because the boosts they get from EVs, combined with IVs and Natures, will always favor Pokemon with two specialized stats.
Nigel Kirk (author) from Calgary, AB, CAN on January 22, 2015:
RNG actually requires external software and calculators for to really make a significant difference. So IV abuse is still alright.
Smith on January 16, 2015:
But since people do IV RNG abuse....I have done it myself. Then is there any reason to keep IVs in their current form? IV abuse is akin to hacking in a way, though the thing is you cannot be caught for doing it.
Nigel Kirk (author) from Calgary, AB, CAN on January 03, 2015:
Sounds like it's more the players that might have turned you off from playing the game. Still, I can understand. Just saying, some players do play competitively, and IV's are for those players. I stand by my blog, but I can understand how it might turn some players off. I just recommend that they play for fun, rather than for competition.
And personally, I find IV's fun. But I'm weird like that.
Seriously? on December 31, 2014:
IVs are the reason I stopped playing Pokemon. EVs are fine. IVs are numbers we have almost no control over. Battles should be won based on strategy and only a BIT of luck. Not silently hoping that you got 31 across the board.
Plus, do I have to mention that it's a game? It's a collection of interactive images that have almost no impact on you in real life. Why does it need to be turned into a project? If you like being rewarded for hard work, then try doing actual productive shit in real life instead of riding bikes up and down for an hour inside a handheld game. It's like those people that spend hundreds of dollars on TF2 hats. Its painful. At least when you play sports you get some exercise. Video games don't produce rewards of the same value. So why should I waste MY time trying to win the worlds most biased game of slots just so some elitist pricks can feel good about beating other elitist pricks in tournaments full of elitist pricks?
Nigel Kirk (author) from Calgary, AB, CAN on August 19, 2014:
What improvements have been made to EV's besides Horde battles? X/Y made significant more improvements to IV's than EV's. And if you want a competitive team, what makes you think you shouldn't have to put time and effort into it? Would you just pick up a football and expect to win the World Cup? You should have to grind if you want to use your team to compete. X/Y makes breeding ridiculously easy too, so it's not like you have to grind all that much anyway.
And it's never stopped me from trying out new Pokemon.
Additionally, eliminating IV's would result in not being able to transfer Pokemon to future gens, so if IV's are what has to stay to make that happen, I'll still keep the IV's. I want to be able to keep the Pokemon I've worked hard on.
IVsMakeItDifficultToKeepPlaying on June 29, 2014:
IVs need to go. The reasons listed here are idiotic. IVs are a time consuming nuisance.
IVs as reason to keep playing? Lol. Seriously. Battling is what you can do after the story. No one breeds IVs because its fun. Players who breed IVs in reality just want to battle and have the best chances of winning. That means grinding through the breeding process.
I've breed 5 IV pokemon before. And it sucks when I want to try out new pokemon and strategies. I can't unless I spend another eternity breeding IVs.
IVs hinder trying out new pokemon.
It makes it competitive? No it doesn't. Having more time to breed than someone else doesn't make you better at pokemon battles.
At this point almost everyone uses 5IV so my Pikachu ends up being identical to your Pikachu anyway. So what's the point in keeping IVs.
EVs need to stay. Barely anyone complains about them with the huge improvements in XY.