Pokemon GO's raid system is, hands-down, the best thing to happen to the game since its release. Between raids and the new, improved gym system (although some would debate whether it's an improvement,) Pokemon GO's user base has shot back up, although certainly not to release levels.
Pokemon GO launched raid battles and the new gym system worldwide on June 24. According to SimilarWeb, the game's usage rank grew in the days leading up on speculation alone. But since the launch of the new features, Pokemon GO has climbed from a rank under 200 in early June up to 160 as of the 29th - and players are generally enthusiastic about the new features.It's not perfect, to be sure. But the new gyms have restored some much-needed fluidity to Pokemon GO. Gyms actually change hands now - it only takes three battles to clear a top-level gym, generally - and players are finding a reason to play the game again with an actual, achievable goal.
Enter the raid system, where powerful Pokemon (that may or may not require a group to bring down) spawn at local gyms. Winning awards special items and a chance to catch said Pokemon, albeit at a reasonable power level. And players can tackle a raid for free once per day. Many of the Pokemon spawning are difficult to find in the wild, and the raids have players participating again.
Now, Forbes has revealed that those raid Pokemon you're currently seeing aren't going to last forever - instead, Niantic plans to rotate them out for new opponents on an unknown but presumably-regular basis; most likely, it will follow the nest migration schedule, which happens every two weeks.
At this point, it's very up in the air which Pokemon will be showing up as replacement raids, but we can be almost certain that Dragonite and Ninetales will make appearances, as they were featured in the raid promotional materials. We can probably also speculate that the Gen 2 middle-evolution starters will swap out for their Gen 1 counterparts. And given what we already know of the current "spread" of raid bosses, we can probably make a few educated guesses as well.
Magikarp, as the only Tier One raid boss aside from the starters, is probably sticking around. In Tier Two, we currently have Electabuzz, Magmar, Exeggutor, Muk, and Weezing. It's fair to assume that Electabuzz, Magmar, and Exeggutor will be replaced with different types, as there are currently few comparable Pokemon in the game. Jynx, Tangela, Mr. Mime, and other non-evolving Pokemon seem likely candidates. Muk and Weezing are both poison-types, and it's hard to predict what they might be replaced with, but our best guess is another less-common type with a fairly obvious pair - fighting stands out there, with Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan, or Wigglytuff and Clefable, the two fairy-types.
Tier Three is harder to guess, featuring the three original Eevee evolutions, three of the four "trade" evolutions, and Arcanine. That, at least, is likely where Ninetales will come into play, replacing its fire-type counterpart. Golem might make an appearance as the missing trade evolution Pokemon. Espeon and Umbreon may also make an appearance.
Finally, for Tier Four, we have Lapras, the three final starter evolutions for Gen 1, Snorlax, Rhydon, and Tyranitar. Dragonite is obviously taking one of those slots. The Gen 2 starters seem like they'll replace their Gen 1 counterparts again. The others are all top-tier Pokemon in the gym scene already; there isn't a lot to compare them with, but Blissey and Gyarados are strong possibilities, along with, maybe, Donphan.
For now, it's likely that the current raid bosses aren't going anywhere fast; Niantic isn't likely to shuffle them before their big reveal at Pokemon GO Fest in Chicago at the end of July.
But the rotation is coming; best to capture your most-wanted list sooner than later and start planning for the next wave.
[Featured Image by Niantic Labs]